A good report, but not good enough to stave off fears that the recovery is losing steam. The US added 661,000 jobs in September according to today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and cut the unemployment rate by a half-point to 7.9%. However, the latter appears to be an artifact of a shift of nearly a million people out of the labor force rather than an organic cut to the number of unemployed people.
The topline number is certainly strong, but it’s also the smallest gain in the recovery so far. It’s a disappointing number in part because the ADP report on Wednesday appeared to indicate more robustness in the labor market:
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 661,000 in September, and the unemployment rate declined to 7.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. In September, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in professional and business services. Employment in government declined over the month, mainly in state and local government education. …
In September, the unemployment rate declined by 0.5 percentage point to 7.9 percent, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 1.0 million to 12.6 million. Both measures have declined for 5 consecutive months but are higher than in February, by 4.4 percentage points and 6.8 million, respectively.