Worrisome Numbers in September Jobs Report

By Toni Vranjes

October 2, 2015

The government has released the initial jobs tally for September, along with revised jobs data for the previous two months — and the numbers don’t look very good.

Last month, payrolls rose by 142,000 — well below the 200,000 median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. For July and August, revised employment numbers show 59,000 fewer jobs than earlier reported, according to the Labor Department.

Unemployment remained at 5.1 percent, as the labor force fell by 350,000. Meanwhile, the labor-force participation rate dropped to 62.4 percent – the lowest level in 38 years.

But that’s not all. In September, the average workweek fell by 0.1 hour, and average hourly earnings dropped by 1 cent.

“The September jobs report was uniformly disappointing,” wrote IHS Global Insight Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh in an analysis.

Some areas of weakness were mining, which shed 10,000 jobs, and manufacturing, which was down by 9,000. Several factors — including economic conditions overseas — have led to sluggish employment growth, Behravesh wrote.

The only bright spot he could find in the report was the “U-6” rate, often called the underemployment rate. This measure includes “marginally attached” workers, as well as part-time workers who want to work full-time. Behravesh pointed out that this rate has dropped from 11.7 percent to 10 percent over the past year – a trend that the White House also emphasized on its blog.

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