October 2017 Unemployment Update

Continuing our ongoing coverage of the labor market, the October Employment Situation release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to show apparent tightening of the labor market. Both the headline U-3 unemployment and the U-6 “underemployment” rate dropped for the second month in a row, by 0.1% and 0.4% respectively.

January September October 9-Month


U-3 Unemployment Rate 4.8% 4.2% 4.1% -0.6%
U-6 Unemployment Rate 9.4% 8.3% 7.9% -1.5%
Civilian Noninstitutional Population* 254,082 255,562 255,776 +1,694
Civilian Labor Force 159,716 161,146 160,381 +665
Employed 152,081 154,345 153,861 +1,780
Unemployed 7,635 7,132 6,520 -1,115
Employment-Population Ratio 59.9% 60.4% 60.2% 0.3%
Part-time for Economic Reasons 5,840 5,122 4,753 -1,087
Marginally Attached to Workforce 1,752 1,569 1,535 -217
  • Discouraged Workers
532 421 524 -8
* All numbers are in thousands, and are seasonally-adjusted

While there were a few noticeable dips and spikes, they’re mostly consistent with the variation we’ve been seeing all year, with the labor market continuing to get tighter with no noticeable effects on wages or inflation. This can mainly be attributed to 10 months of the Trump administration having yielded no significant changes to economic policy, which means there’s been nothing to disrupt the long-run trend of the economy towards expansion over the last several years. With Congress now debating tax policy, and other major legislation scheduled for the hectic pre-holiday session, that may change soon, particularly if the debates devolve into a government shutdown.