Jobs grew at a steady, if modest rate in September, with employers adding 156,000 non-farm jobs during the month.
This morning’s monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was not far off the forecasts of labor economists who predicted a gain in the range of 165,000 to 172,000. The government report said private sector jobs grew by 167,000, offset by the loss of 11,000 government positions. Initial reports for July and August were revised with July’s jobs growth reduced from 275,000 to 252,000 while August was revised up to 167,000, for a net reduction of 7,000 over the two months.
There were no surprises in the report, which offered a picture of an economy continuing to grow at a pace strong enough to keep unemployment in check even as sidelined workers stream back into the labor force.
The unemployment rate did inch up to 5%, the result of some 450,000 workers deciding to join — or rejoin — the labor force. Although still near its 40 year low, the labor force participation rate has been slowly increasing for months. In September the rate was 62.9%; a year ago it was 62.4%.
September’s Consumer Confidence report from the business research group, The Conference Board, showed a big jump in the Confidence Index, rising 2.3 points to 104.1, the highest since the recession. One component of the measures that go into calculating the Index is how consumers perceive hiring. The report said, “Those stating jobs were “plentiful” increased from 26.8% to 27.9%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined from 22.8% to 21.6%.”
Despite the growing size of the labor force, the monthly LINE report from the Society for Human Resource Management said recruiting difficulty in September rose in comparison to a year ago. Over the last three years, the report showed recruiting for both the service and manufacturing sectors continuing to get more difficult.
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The BLS report said the service sector accounted for 157,000 new jobs. Manufacturers shed 13,000, but a surge in construction jobs added 23,000 new workers, lifting the goods producing sector to a net increase of 10,000.
Other strong sectors were:
- Healthcare was up by 32,700 jobs, driven by an increase of 23,900 jobs in ambulatory services which includes doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics and home health care.
- Retail, up 22,000 with 14,300 jobs added by clothing and clothing accessories stores.
- Temp agencies added 23,200 new jobs.
- Management and technical consulting services up 15,900.
- Bars and restaurants added 29,700 jobs.
The government also reported that hourly wages rose an average of 6 cents to $25.79. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.6%.