The U.S. economy exceeded expectations by adding 204,000 jobs in October. Many analysts figured a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government last month would make a dent in the jobs numbers. The government sector furloughs might have played a role in edging up the unemployment rate to 7.3%. But the private sector persevered and kept adding jobs.
Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation said the employment sectors that gained jobs nationally are important to the LA region’s economy. Hotels, restaurants and other employers in the leisure and hospitality industry added 53,000 jobs nationwide in October, the sector's largest gain since April. Professional and business services added 44,000 new positions. The construction sector also added jobs, and Kleinhenz says that’s important because California lost a third of its construction jobs during the recession.
"We've now regained some of those jobs, but we're a long ways away from seeing that sector of the economy recover," Kleinhenz said of the construction industry.
During the partial shutdown of the federal government, many businesses and nonprofits with close ties to government activity said they could survive if the gridlock didn't last too long. Kleinhenz said what he heard from employers backed that up.
"Anecdotally, we heard that many of those firms tried to keep people on their payroll figuring it was going to be a short-lived shutdown, and that it would be a lot easier to just hang in there than it would be to engage in widespread layoffs," Kleinhenz said.
For a clearer view of the Los Angeles regional jobs picture, Kleinhenz is waiting for the California Employment Development Department's release of September and October employment data. That's now scheduled for Friday, November 22.