September Jobs Report a Pleasant Surprise
The September jobs report was a pleasant surprise, if only by the current abysmal standards for job growth. In September, U.S. nonfarm payrolls beat expectations, adding 103,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate remained at 9.1 percent. August's job totals were also revised upward, from the previous estimate of zero to 57,000 jobs.
While those figures are perhaps a welcome glimmer of hope, the report also carried with it many troubling factors. First, 45,000 of September's new jobs came from the end of a strike by
The so-called "real" unemployment rate -- which takes into account discouraged workers, others marginally attached to the labor force, and the underemployed -- rose 0.3 percentage points last month, from 16.2 to 16.5 percent. The data suggest that the number of people employed part-time for economic reasons grew last month.
"It wouldn't be correct to characterize it as a strong report in absolute terms, but it is better than anticipated," summarizes
Broken down by industry, the numbers show the continuation of several broad trends. The private sector continued to grow, adding 137,000 jobs, while government remained weak, subtracting 34,000 positions. The healthcare and social assistance industry continues to drive job growth, with nearly 41,000 jobs added last month. Professional and business services also remain strong, growing by 48,000 new jobs.
Goods-producing industries meanwhile showed uneven growth. Manufacturing lost 13,000 jobs, its second straight month of losses. Meanwhile, the soft construction industry was surprisingly strong, adding 26,000 jobs.
Perhaps the best way to describe the September jobs numbers is "marginally positive." "[O]ne thing that [the jobs report] does do is it sort of diminishes the probability that we are heading into a double-dip recession that will have an impact on capital markets," says
The September jobs report comes as the president continues a strong push for his American Jobs Act, unveiled
last month before a joint session of
Gault believes that extensions to the payroll tax cut and emergency unemployment benefits, which are both currently set to expire at the end of the year, might survive
Meanwhile, Republicans responded to the report in order to push their own economic proposals and attack the president. "We need to recognize that this administration is holding the economy back," said Rep.
For his part, House Majority Leader
The report's effect on Federal Reserve policy, meanwhile, is debatable. It may, as Roda believes, show that the recovery is solid enough to continue without new monetary policy. "This data in and of itself isn't data that would give the Fed more impetus to resort to new measures," says Roda. Gault, however, disagrees. Given September's net job creation of 58,000 (subtracting the returned
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