The eagerly anticipated and long-delayed September employment report was issued earlier this morning and for those hoping to see a pickup in job growth, it was most disappointing. Specifically, the nation added 148,000 jobs last month, some 32,000 less than the 180,000 generally forecast. The result also was materially lower than the upwardly revised 193,000 non-farm payrolls added in August. (Initially, that month's estimated increase had been 169,000.)
At the same time, the national unemployment rate, which is compiled in a separate survey, eased from 7.3% to 7.2%. A flattish reading had been the expectation here. However, this latter good news was more apparent than real, as the total workforce was unchanged from August to September as 63.2%. Thus, the reduction in this rate simply reflected an aggregate slight reduction in the total workforce participation, while there was no percentage change. In fact, in the past year, the labor force has fallen by 0.4%, suggesting that many of the jobless are simply no longer looking for work. That category, considered discouraged workers, also showed no change from month to month.
Still, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.4% since June, and that is a positive trend. Meantime, the number of unemployed persons at 11.3 million was little changed from the prior month, but that total, too, has declined since June, falling by 522,000.
Breaking the report down to its component parts shows that the number of long-term unemployed, that is those jobless for at least 27 weeks, was little changed at 4.1 million last month. Such individuals accounted for 36.9% of the total unemployed. In addition, those working part time because they cannot find full-time work was unchanged last month.
Further, employment in construction increased by 20,000 in September, while those holding jobs in wholesale trade rose by 16,000 last month. Further, the average workweek was unchanged last month, at 34.5 hours, and average hourly earnings rose by 0.3 cents. Taken as a whole, this was a disappointing report, but one that increases the chances that the Federal Reserve, which meets next week, will hold the line on its accommodative monetary policies.
At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.