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Jobs Report: 156,000 Jobs Added in September; Unemployment Ticks Up to 5 Percent

Prior to this morning’s release from the Labor Department, economists polled by Reuters were expecting the addition of 175,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls. Instead, the monthly Employment Situation Summary reflected 156,000 jobs added, and a slightly higher unemployment rate of 5 percent.
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“For the second month in a row, the growth in payroll jobs was solid though a bit below expectations at 156,000,” said Harry Holzer, former Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor and author of Where Are All the Good Jobs Going?, in a statement. “…The labor force grew by 450,000 last month, and has risen by a half percentage point since a year ago. With Baby Boomers continuing to retire, this moderate improvement in labor force activity among non-elderly workers (many of whom had left the workforce during the recession) is encouraging.”

The number of workers who were unemployed for less than five weeks increased by 284,000 to 2.6 million, while the number of long-term unemployed (those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged. Long-term unemployed workers make up nearly a quarter of all unemployed, and number 2 million.

Holzer also noted that hourly wages increased last month, rising 2.8 percent year-over-year and 6 cents an hour to $25.79. For 2016 as a whole, average hourly earnings have increased 2.6 percent. The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages of employed U.S. workers, forecasts a 1.6 percent year-over-year increase in earnings for Q3 2016.

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Several industries added jobs last month, including professional and business services (+67,000 jobs), healthcare (+33,000 jobs), food services and drinking places (+30,000 jobs), and retail trade employment (+22,000 jobs).

Mining was unchanged last month. The industry has shed 220,000 jobs since its height in September 2014. Other industries were essentially flat, including manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, information, and government.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics revised reports for July and August to reflect 7,000 fewer jobs total than originally reported; with these revisions, job gains for the previous three months averaged 192,000 per month. Job gains have averaged 178,000 per month for 2016 so far, compared with an average of 229,000 jobs added per month in 2015.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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