- US Labor Market Adds 156,000 Jobs in September
US labor market added fewer jobs than expected in September, as the number of unemployed people surged.
The non-farm payrolls added 156,000 jobs in September, the Labor Department report on Friday. Enough to still accommodate new entrants into the labor market.
The unemployment rate, which has been stuck at 4.9 percent since the spring, ticked up slightly to 5 percent.
For all the anxiety at home as well as turmoil abroad, like the “Brexit” vote in Britain, the American job machine continues to hum along.
Average hourly earnings ticked higher by 0.2 percentage point last month, bringing the wage gain over the last 12 months to 2.6 percent.
Before the report, economists had forecast a gain of 172,000 jobs in September. Although September’s figure was slightly weaker than expected, payroll gains in August were revised upward by 15,000.
To be sure, tens of millions of workers have barely felt the benefits of the recovery.
And despite robust hiring in late 2015 and during much of 2016, notable pockets of economic weakness remain, more than seven years after the start of the current recovery, especially in the oil industry and some industrial sectors.
In addition, the proportion of Americans in the labor force remains near 40-year lows, a sign that all those workers who gave up on finding work in recent years are only slowly trickling back to positions at malls, offices, factories and other workplaces.
In fact, those prime-age workers who have dropped out — what experts and policy makers at the Federal Reserve blandly term “labor market slack” — should enable the current pace of hiring to continue without much threat of overheating the economy.
“There are still plenty of unemployed people out there, enough for employers to continue to hire at a substantial pace,” said Michael Gapen, chief United States economist at Barclays.
“The expansion will end before you run out of labor,” added Mr. Gapen, who estimates the unemployment rate could drop to 4 percent by the end of 2017.
Those two contrasting realities — healthy hiring and falling unemployment on the one hand, millions of economically sidelined Americans on the other — sustain the narrative of the two main presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump.
Whatever their spin, both candidates’ critique of the economy contain kernels of truth. Friday’s report, while generally strong, contained fodder for both.