Poll Shows October Jobless Rate 'Down Sharply' Compared To September

more Americans finding jobsMore Americans are finding work, partly because of increased hiring for the holiday sales season, a new poll finds.

The rate of joblessness as measured by Gallup fell to 8.3 percent in mid-October, down sharply from 8.7 percent at the end of September and 9.2 percent at August's end, the polling organization said Monday.

A year ago, Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate stood at 10 percent, it said.

Seasonal hiring explains some of the improvement, Gallup said, noting that Halloween has become the third most popular U.S. holiday in retail sales.

The findings suggest that the government could detect a drop in the U.S. jobless rate to less than 9 percent when the Labor Department reports October data on Nov. 4. The rate now stands at 9.1 percent. where it has stood for three months.

Since the government collects its monthly data during the first two weeks of the month -- the same period in which Gallup gathered its information -- the Labor Department's numbers are likely to track the same trend, Gallup said.

The fresh data further showed that more workers are leaving the ranks of the underemployed. The percentage of Americans who are either unemployed or working part-time fell to 17.5 percent in October, down sharply from 18.3 percent, the rate recorded at the end of September.

The underemployment figure is also the lowest measurement of the year, Gallup said.

For those looking for work, the data suggest it's a good time to renew or intensify the job search, says Dennis Jacobe, chief economist at Gallup.

It appears that there's more activity in the labor market now, he tells AOL Jobs.

Part of the hiring activity is related to holiday hiring, Jacobe says, "but the drop that we've picked up is significant enough that it looks like there's some more general improvement in the [labor] market."

Still, the U.S. has a long way to go before unemployment is at normal, healthy levels, Jacobe says, noting that a normal underemployment rate is typically around 10 to 12 percent.

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