State and local government employment fell slightly in October after revised estimates indicate the sector rebounded in recent months, driven by job gains in higher education.

Labor Department data released Friday showed state government payrolls declined 7,000 for the month. But more notably, revised figures signaled much greater changes than previously estimated for prior months. Total state government employment was revised up 9,000 for August and 23,000 for September, representing the largest month-over-month increase in years.

Hiring for colleges and universities accounted for the jump in employment, while non-education state jobs have fluctuated little the past two months.

Meanwhile, local government employment was unchanged last month. It fell by 9,000 positions in September after adding jobs in July and August.

Across all sectors, nonfarm U.S. payroll employment rose 171,000 in October, with most gains from professional/business services, health care and retail trade. That’s up from a revised estimate of 148,000 additional jobs last month.

The Labor Department reports job growth has averaged 157,000 per month so far this year, up only slightly from 153,000 last year.

Updated figures also point to an expansion of the labor force. An additional 578,000 Americans were considered part of the labor force, many of whom are unemployed. Despite last month’s job growth, the difference was enough to push the unemployment rate up from 7.8 to 7.9 percent.

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