At Last: A Big Gain in Jobs

Strong private sector gains signal a turn for the better.

Businesses hired a burst of workers in October to handle new orders, especially in the service sector. Net job growth of 151,000 last month shows an economy finally shifting from recovery to expansion. Revisions to job losses in August and September provide more good news: The Labor Department now puts the drop at 42,000 instead of the previously reported 152,000.

Certainly, there's still a long way to go. Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute think tank, notes that as welcome as October's job growth is, at that pace it would take 20 years to lower the unemployment rate from the current 9.6% to 5%, where it stood at the start of the last recession. Economic growth -- at 2% in the third quarter, a bit better than the 1.7% pace in the second quarter -- isn't enough to make a dent in the unemployment rate.

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Jerome Idaszak
Contributing Editor, The Kiplinger Letter
Idaszak, now retired, worked on The Kiplinger Letter as its economics writer for 21 years. Before joining Kiplinger in 1992, he worked for 15 years with the Chicago Sun-Times, including five years as a columnist and economic correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau, covering five international economic summit meetings. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Northwestern University.