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Queens Chronicle

Queens jobless rate up; analyst cites optimism

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Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:27 am, Thu Dec 12, 2013.

October was one of those months when the unemployment rate went up but analysts see good news behind the numbers.

The jobless rate in Queens for October was 8 percent, up half a point from September and just a tenth of a point below where it was in October 2012, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Labor, released last week.

But that’s not because fewer people are working, it’s because more of them are being counted as part of the labor force whether they’re employed or not, according to analyst Elena Volovelsky of the Labor Department.

Approximately 91,700 people in Queens were listed as jobless in October, compared to 85,800 in September and 91,600 in October 2012, the department’s figures show. But 1,060,200 were working in October, compared to 1,057,400 in September and 1,046,100 a year ago.

How can there be growth in both jobs and joblessness? A growing workforce.

The state’s figures are largely derived from telephone surveys, which ask people if they’re working and, if not, if they’re looking for work. When respondents say they’re out of work but looking, they’re counted as part of the workforce. When they say they’re out of work and have given up looking, they’re not.

An increase in the number seeking jobs reflects more confidence in the economy, according to Volovelsky.

“What we’re seeing is, the pickup in the unemployment rate, and it’s true for the city as well as the boroughs, is due to an increase in the labor force,” she said. “That’s it entirely. People perceive that the underlying economic conditions are improving.”

Other factors could be playing a small role, she added. Last year holiday hiring among retailers got off to an early start and was in full swing by October, she said; this year it may have started later. Hiring for the school year can be another variable, she added.

Citywide, the figures were proportionately similar to those for Queens. Unemployment was 8.9 percent in October, compared to 8.5 percent in September and 9 percent in October 2012. Roughly 3,708,300 New Yorkers had jobs, compared to 3,698,700 in September and 3,659,100 a year ago; while 360,700 were unemployed, compared to 342,100 in September and 362,600 in October 2012.

Statewide the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, compared to 7.4 percent in September and 8.1 percent in October 2012. Approximately 8,923,700 people had jobs, up from 8,897,700 in September and 8,834,700 a year ago. Roughly 721,800 people were unemployed, compared to 712,200 in September and 781,300 in October 2012.

Nationally, unemployment was 7 percent in both September and October, compared to 7.5 percent in October 2012. Approximately 144,144,000 Americans had jobs, down from the 144,651,000 who did in September but up from the 144,039,000 working in October 2012. The number of unemployed was 10,773,000, down from September’s 10,885,000 and 11,741,000 a year ago.

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