The unemployment rate continued at its August level in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, steady at 9.6% despite the net loss of almost 100,000 jobs in the month.  That mainly came from Census Bureau layoffs and local government cutbacks, which totaled 159,000.  The private sector added 64,000 jobs, fewer than in August and well below the level needed to keep up with population growth:

Nonfarm payroll employment edged down (-95,000) in September, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Government employment declined (-159,000), reflecting both a drop in the number of temporary jobs for Census 2010 and job losses in local government. Private-sector payroll employment continued to trend up modestly (+64,000).

There was further bad news in the expansion of underemployed and chronically unemployed.  The underemployed grew by 612,000 in September, and is now at 9.5 million people.  The chronically unemployed went to 2.5 million, up 300,000 from a year ago.  Among the latter group were 1.2 million discouraged workers, up over 500,000 from a year ago.

The winners in job additions were health care, food services and drinking places, employment services, and a slight bump in mining.  Manufacturing stayed flat, which may be the best possible outcome, considering the setbacks to manufacturing during “Recovery Summer.”  Construction lost 21,000 jobs.

Yesterday, Gallup warned that serious job losses occurred in the final two weeks of the month, and that the BLS data would likely miss it in this report.  If true (ADP also saw private-sector losses), then next month’s report will look significantly worse.  Meanwhile, this number may not generate a lot of bad press, but it certainly won’t help Democrats trying to make the case for another term in office.

Update: The AP gives this a straightforward treatment:

A wave of government layoffs last month outpaced weak hiring in the private sector, pushing down the nation’s payrolls by a net total of 95,000 jobs.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate held at 9.6 percent. The jobless rate has now topped 9.5 percent for 14 straight months, the longest stretch since the 1930s.

The private sector added 64,000 jobs, the weakest showing since June.

Private sector growth wasn’t exactly beating down the doors in August or July, either, but the AP is correct in noting that it’s going in the wrong direction.

Update II: This is now officially bad news for the White House and Congressional Democrats.  Reuters has used — the U word.  In fact, they used a form of it twice in the same sentence:

The U.S. economy unexpectedly shed jobs in September for a fourth straight month as government payrolls fell and private hiring was less than expected, hardening expectations of further Federal Reserve action to spur the recovery.

Nonfarm payrolls dropped 95,000, the Labor Department said on Friday. Private employment, a better gauge of labor market health, increased 64,000 after rising 93,000 in August. A total of 77,000 temporary jobs for the decennial census were terminated last month.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected overall payrolls would be unchanged, with private-sector hiring gaining 75,000.

That makes it double-plus ungood … unexpectedly, of course.

Update III: I wrote “inflation” where I meant “population growth.” Late night, not enough coffee this morning. My apologies.

Update IV: Steve McGough at Radio Vice Online beholds the power of Hot Air.  Reuters has unexpectedly removed the U-word from its lead paragraph:

I find the entire unexpectedly kerfuffle quite funny. The word is constantly overused by news organizations like the Associated Press and Reuters, and now when first-string bloggers make note of the word usage – and make fun of its use – the organizations continue to use the word only to pull it from copy within an hour or so.

I find it amusing, too, especially the belated intervention of the editor.