WASHINGTON WATCH: Labor Sec. Hilda Solis Breaks Down The October Jobs Report

The October report was pretty positive. It showed 171,000 thousand jobs added in October — better than expected — with the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, up one tenth of 1 percent from last month’s 7.8 percent. Black unemployment was 14.3 percent, up nine tenths of 1 percent from last month’s 13.4 percent.

Labor Sec. Hilda Solis sat down with Roland Martin to discuss the October jobs report.

MR. MARTIN:  Before we start, though, first the numbers.

The October report was pretty positive.  It showed 171,000 thousand jobs added in October – better than expected – with the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, up one tenth of 1 percent from last month’s 7.8 percent.  Black unemployment was 14.3 percent, up nine tenths of 1 percent from last month’s 13.4 percent.

So, what really contributed because – to this jobs report?  Because analysts thought it would be a much lower number –

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — than 171,000.

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  Well, actually, we saw a continued job growth in areas like professions and business, in hotel and restaurant, retail industries and also in healthcare.  And there was a revision for the last two months.  You saw 84,000 private-sector jobs added to those two reports.  So, overall –

MR. MARTIN:  So, in August the number was – was it 142, I –


MR. MARTIN:  — believe?

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  — it was – in – in – with those two months coupled – tho- — couple those two months.  It’s 84,000 jobs that we – were not [ac]counted for that are now added in.  So, we’ve actually been creating a much stronger job growth than was reported, and that typically happens.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always get reported well.

But I’ll tell you that when the President took office – and you know this well – 4 million jobs were lost by the time he was there – 4 million.  And he’s now recouped 5.4 million jobs, so he’s actually added 1.2 million private-sector jobs on top of what was lost during his watch.  So, we’re – we’re on a right – right path here.  And even though the unemployment ticked up a bit, it only shows you that there’s confidence.  People are looking for jobs.  So, it also ticks up when people are engaged and looking for work.

MR. MARTIN:  And, of course, critics have been saying that, look.  So many people have checked out of the process, so many folks unemployed for some 27 months.  They say, “Look.  Of course you’re going to see some kind of change, because people were checking out of the process.”

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  Well, I’ll tell you.  Actually, there are more people finding work, so that isn’t correct.  And, in fact, when you look over the last three and-a-half years, in – in general terms, you would say that it has ticked down overall for all major groups.  It was substantially higher for African-Americans and for Latinos and other groups – and even young, returning veterans.  All of those figures are showing on a positive trend that they’re going down.

MR. MARTIN:  We always talk about in terms of – I was at Stanford University on Friday – excuse me; on Monday – and I talked – somebody asked me the question about how do you deal with the unemployment rate.  And I said one of the things we must pay attention [is] where [is] the growth in jobs.

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  And so according to the latest report, where [is] the growth in jobs in terms of the areas where hiring is actually taking place?

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  Well, I’ll tell you.  Overall, it’s in – it’s in the – the professional areas – people that have to have better skills.  So, you’re looking at people with advanced degrees, but also with two-year degrees.  So, a lot of manufacturers who want to hire people that have maybe a one-year or two-year degree in a technical capacity.

So, we need to do more.  The President’s given is money to work with community colleges and manufacturers to create those curricul[a] so that employers will know exactly who they want to hire and have them ready to go.  That’s the best path to follow.  That’s what all businesses are telling us.

MR. MARTIN:  What about – what parts of the country are we seeing the kind of growth compared to others?

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  I’m – I’m t- — what I see happening – I mean this is spread out all over the country –

MR. MARTIN:  Um-hum.

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  — okay?  Where we still have some stagnation is in construction. So, Nevada, because of housing, and also California and places like Florida; but those things eventually will correct themselves.  And we have to look at new industries – renewable energy.  So, we’re seeing across the board – even in mining.  That’s – that has had a very interesting growth period.  We also see in the natural gas area where there’s more shale exploration.  You’re going to see more of those kinds of jobs coming up as well.

But we still have to stay focused.  If we’re going to be competitive with Asia and with Brazil and with Germany and everybody else, then we need to be focused in on higher-tech jobs.  So, we want to drive people to our one-stop centers to get the training that they need.  The President is pretty much helping provide this free service available to everyone, and we want people to take advantage of it.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Well, we certainly appreciate it.  Thanks for breaking it all down for us and, hopefully, we’ll be chatting again with the next jobs report.

SEC’Y. SOLIS:  Very soon.  Thanks.

MR. MARTIN:  I appreciate it.  Thanks a bunch.