The Labor Department announced this morning that the unemployment rate stuck at 6.1% for September, with a net gain of 57,000 jobs. Sundry seers expected a jump to 6.2% after payrolls shed 93,000 workers in August, but that number's now revised to 41,000.
The major stock market averages jumped immediately, with the Dow and S&P 500 up over 1% and the Nasdaq climbing over 2%.
It was the first overall rise in jobs in eight months. While manufacturing jobs declined for the 38th consecutive month, construction climbed for the seventh month in a row. Professional and business services rose 66,000, half from temporary employment that's been up in each of the last five months. Temporary employment numbers often lead to full-time job increases.
In another key positive statistic, the number of marginally employed and discouraged workers was unchanged from Sept. 2002. Because these workers aren't counted as unemployed, large jumps here mean that unemployment figures don't tell the full story.
Among companies that can benefit directly from improved employment conditions are staffing companies Robert Half International
In another statistic released today, the Institute for Supply Management's monthly survey of purchasing data for services dropped from 65.1 to 63.3 -- lower than expected and still above 50, signaling expansion.
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