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U.S. employment numbers are a pleasant surprise, but are we climbing a mountain or riding a roller coaster?

November 2, 2012

by Jeff Pinkerton

Payroll employment in the U.S. jumped by 171,000 in October according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released this morning. This is a solid, if not dynamic, number and it does surpass expectations. Economists had expected growth in the 120,000 range. The largest gains were seen in the professional and business services, health, and retail sectors.

This marks four months of solid employment growth.  This positive trend appears to have caused more discouraged workers to try looking for work again, too, as the labor force participation rate rose from 63.6 percent to 63.8 percent.

As always, a word of caution: we’ve been here before. We had an even better four-month stretch between November 2011 and February 2012, only to see it fizzle with disappointing numbers the following four months. Are we really climbing, or is this a continuation of the roller coaster ride? We’ll have to wait and see.

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