Washington In a sharp improvement, more than half of U.S. states added jobs in October, though economists said many of the gains likely occurred in temporary employment.
That’s customarily a positive a sign. Employers usually hire temporary workers before they add full-time jobs. But in this case, the temporary hiring may be inflated by the auto sector, which has boosted production to replace depleted inventories. As a result, the increase might not be sustainable.
Some of last month’s job gains also were in sectors such as education, health care and government, which have fared relatively well during the recession. By contrast, there’s little evidence that companies in hard-hit industries are hiring permanent staff.
Overall, 28 states added jobs in October. That’s up from only seven in September and eight in August. It’s also the largest number to record increases since 33 states did so in February 2008, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank.
“It’s a positive signal ... that states are mixed rather than uniformly bad,” said Jim Diffley, a regional economist at IHS Global Insight. Previous reports have all been “doom and gloom,” he said.
Michigan still had the nation’s highest unemployment rate in October: 15.1 percent. It was followed by Nevada at 13 percent, Rhode Island at 12.9 percent, California at 12.5 percent and South Carolina’s 12.1 percent.
California, Florida, Delaware and Washington, D.C., posted their highest unemployment rates on records dating to 1976.