The national unemployment rate remained unchanged in October, but the economy created more jobs than it has since May—151,000 of them. While that's good news, it's worth pointing out that 28,000 of the gains were in retail employment. There's a strong likelihood that many of those jobs are seasonal, and will therefore leak back out of the economy come the new year.
That caveat—plus the fact that the gains weren't enough to move the unemployment number—further fuels the suspicion that we're still in something of a holding pattern. That suspicion is only reinforced by the latest results from Vault's Job Seeker Sentiment Index. Based on a poll that we run every other month on our home page, the poll tracks opinion from job seekers on the state of the job market. As such, it serves as an indication of on-the-ground conditions as experienced by our audience.
The latest results from the poll are broadly positive: just 13 percent of respondents think the situation is worse than it was three months ago, while 42 percent think things have improved. Worryingly, however, is that 43 percent think the jobs situation is about the same as it was three months ago: with unemployment at its current levels, that suggests a level of stagnation that will be difficult to overcome. (Poll numbers are less than 100 percent due to rounding.)
That impression only heightens when the results of the poll are viewed historically: the proportion of respondents claiming that the jobs picture is "about the same" is higher than it's been since we began tracking sentiment one year ago. However, the proportion of those who believe that the situation is getting worse has dropped to an all-time low as well.
For those who just can't get enough of charts, here's how the national unemployment number has fared over the same period.
Fingers crossed for some downward movement next month.
--Phil Stott, Vault.com