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U.S. Jobs: New Jobs, Unemployment Both Go Down in September

September was a mixed bag for employment statistics with new job creation falling, but unemployment also low.

The 137,000 jobs added for September is boosted somewhat, on average, by top-ups for both July and August. The July numbers went from 147,000 to 165,000, an increase of 18,000 (11 percent). August numbers really spiked though, up from 201,000 to 270,000, an increase of 69,000 (more than 25 percent).

 

All told, job gains for the past three-month period still average 190,000, which is somewhere between “decent” and “pretty good” job growth overall. A quick look at the unemployment rate for 2018, however, shows a somewhat bumpy decline from a high of 4.1 percent in January and February — already low by usual standards — to the current historic low of 3.7 percent for September.

 

More Report Details Show Where Jobs Are Growing ... and Stagnant

 

Labor force participation held steady in September at 62.7 percent, while the employment population ratio of 60.4 percent was mostly unchanged as well. This month’s job uptick of 137,000 is significantly lower than the 12-month trailing average of 201,000 (by more than 31 percent). Where did those modest job gains occur?

 

Three sectors experienced the bulk of that job growth — namely, professional and business services, health care, and transportation and warehousing. Professional and business services accounted for a major chunk, with 54,000 such jobs added in September (and 560,000 for the year so far, which puts September under that monthly average of 62,000 or so).

 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

Health care was up by 26,000 for September (with 302,000 such jobs added for 2018 so far, that’s a monthly average of 33,500 or thereabouts). Transportation and warehousing increased by 24,000 for September, which is ahead of the monthly average for 2018 of just over 19,000 (174,000 such jobs added for 2018 so far).

 

Other sectors that gained jobs included construction (+23,000), manufacturing (+18,000) and mining (+6,000). Leisure and hospitality declined by 17,000 for September, and the BLS report speculates that this may be an impact from Hurricane Florence.

 

The rest of the major industries and sectors in the U.S. economy — wholesale and retail trades, information, finance, and government were mostly flat.

 

What About Wages?

 

Wages continue to show modest growth. Average hourly earnings were up by $0.08 an hour to $27.74 for September. For the year, average hourly earnings are up 73 cents, which translates into a 2.8 percent growth rate for wages. With the current U.S. inflation rate at 2.7 percent, wages are just barely if not imperceptibly ahead of that rate.

 

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