Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports Slowdown In Hiring

The economy in October added just 56,000 jobs — a nationwide slowdown in hiring, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported and coming after a loss of jobs in September. The figures also showed the effects ofsthe recent hurricanes in the U.S.

More than a half-million Americans were thrown out of work by hurricanes in the past three months, the BLS says.The worst hit were the victims of Hurricane Katrina, out of work at Depression-era levels.The government estimates 800,000 people were evacuated from the Gulf, and more than half have not returned. About 11 percent of those who have gone back still lack jobs, but among those who have not returned, 33 percent are unemployed.

A separate BLS survey put the unemployment rate at 5.0 percent — down from 5.1 percent in September. That smaller, more erratic survey often differs from the BLS payroll report. Lately it has shown more job growth.

Nearly one in five of the unemployed have been out of work at least six months. Usually, when the unemployment rate is below 5.5 percent, long-term joblessness accounts for only 12 percent of those laid off, said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

The BLS measure of how many companies are hiring has hit its lowest point since late 2003.