‘Blowout Numbers’ as Black Unemployment Reaches Record Low, Beating Forecasts

Number employed increases by 128,000 despite General Motors strikes
By Alan McDonnell
Alan McDonnell
Alan McDonnell
November 1, 2019 Updated: November 1, 2019

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday released its monthly Employment Situation Report (pdf), which showed continued employment growth and near record unemployment rates in October. Employment gains among African-American women and Latinos were particularly impressive.

The unemployment rate for African Americans reached a record low of 5.4 percent—a fall of 2.6 percent since President Trump took office.

The unemployment rate for black women reached just 4.4 percent, a reduction of 0.8 percent since July. However, unemployment for black males rose slightly from 5.8 to 5.9 percent, remaining close to its historic low from last month.

The White House pointed out that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 128,000 jobs last month, far exceeding market expectations of about 75,000. In an interview with Fox News, however, economist and Director of the U.S. National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, described the gains as a “blowout number.” He said that when the numbers were corrected to include an upward revision of 95,000 jobs for August and September, a decrease in unemployment of 60,000 due to the recent resolution of the GM strikes, and including 20,000 temporary employees finishing their work for the U.S. census, the true number of jobs created was in the region of 303,000.

According to the White House, “Since the President’s 2016 election, the economy has added over 6.7 million jobs—more than the combined populations of Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Montana in 2018. Additionally, this total is 4.8 million more jobs than the Congressional Budget Office projected would have been created in its final forecast before the 2016 election.”

While some commentators pointed out that manufacturing jobs failed to improve in October, the 40-day strike at GM that involved some 46,000 GM workers certainly played a role. According to the White House press release, over 500,000 jobs have been added during this administration.

Alan McDonnell
Alan McDonnell