Jobs Growth Slowed in Sept.; Unemployment Rate Drops to 7.2%

After the government shutdown held up its planned release more than two weeks ago, the Department of Labor released its September employment situation report (link opens in PDF) today, and numbers are mixed.

After increasing a revised 193,000 for August, total nonfarm payroll employment eased down to just 148,000 new jobs this past month, well below analyst estimates of 185,000. And while the unemployment rate did manage to slip down 0.1 percentage points to 7.2%, the dip was largely due to declining labor force numbers, rather than more Americans employed.

In the private sector, the biggest employment improvements came from construction (up 20,000), wholesale trade (up 16,000), and transportation and warehousing (up 23,000).

Government work, as well as mining and logging, manufacturing, and information industries, showed little overall employment changes for September. In the only industry decline, food services and drinking places took a slight 7,000-employee hit.

Click here to see a breakdown of jobs by industry.

For those with jobs, September's hourly earnings did manage to edge up 0.1%, although analysts had expected another 0.2% rise from August. In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.03 to $24.09. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by $0.49, or 2.1%.

Average U.S. job growth has fallen sharply in the past three months after a promising start this year. The economy added an average of 143,000 jobs a month from July through September. That was down from the 182,000 average gain during from April through June and well below the 207,000-a-month pace from January through March.

link-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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