September jobs report shows only 148K net jobs added

posted at 8:36 am on October 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Wall Street expected to see 180,000 net new jobs added in September’s long-awaited BLS jobs report, a bit over the 166,000 predicted by ADP before the shutdown.  Instead, the BLS only showed 148,000 jobs added in yet another stagnation result:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in September, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in construction, wholesale trade, and transportation and warehousing.

The participation rates remained unchanged, with the civilian labor force participation rate remaining at its 35-year low:

Both the civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.2 percent, and the employment-population ratio at 58.6 percent, were unchanged in September. Over the year, the labor force participation rate has declined by 0.4 percentage point, while the employment-population ratio has changed little.

There were some revisions for July and August resulting in a net increase in jobs of 9,000:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised from +104,000 to +89,000, and the change for August was revised from +169,000 to +193,000. With these revisions, employment gains in July and August combined were 9,000 more than previously reported.

The jobless rate declined to 7.2%, but that’s not coming from an employment explosion. In order to keep up with population growth, the US economy has to add around 150K jobs net each month, which means we did slightly worse than tread water in September.  Both the U-3 and the U-6 number declined in this case by a tenth of a point, with U-6 now at 13.6%.  Before the Great Recession really got into high gear in the fall of 2008, U-6 was at 10.8%, and it was at 14.2% when Barack Obama took office.

This month, 136,000 people left the workforce in the population survey, which is almost the same number as the net jobs added in the establishment survey.  The number of employed in the same population survey only increased 133,000.  It’s a real demonstration of the continuing stagnation, and another indication of the decreasing value of the jobless rate as an economic indicator.

Reuters calls this a miss, while CNBC quoted an analyst that called the report “blistering”:

September saw the U.S. economy add just 148,000 jobs, significantly worse than expected, according to a report delayed more than two weeks by the government shutdown.

The unemployment unexpectedly fell to 7.2 percent as the labor-force participation rate held near 35-year lows. …

“Today’s blistering jobs report has quickly reminded America that our economic problems are getting worse, despite talking point reassurances from Federal Reserve officials,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing partner at LandColt Capital.

The report likely will do little to move the needle on monetary policy.

It should be moving the needle on economic policy in Congress and the White House, but we missed our best chance of that in November 2012.

Update: Chart of the day, courtesy of West Wing Reports:

Like I said, stagnation.


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