Saturday, October 8, 2011

US Labor Market Data: Job Growth Moderate, Unemployment Steady in September

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the U.S. economy added 103,000 payroll jobs in September. That was the best number in five months, but is still well below the rates of job growth earlier in the recovery.

The service sector provided nearly all of the new jobs, with health care and temporary work leading the way. Goods producing sectors added just 18,000 jobs and manufacturing jobs actually fell in the month. Government jobs decreased by 34,000, continuing a steady decline.

A separate household survey that includes farm jobs and the self-employed showed that the labor force, which includes both employed and unemployed persons, grew by 423,000. Of these, 398,000 found jobs and 25,000 joined the ranks of the unemployed as soon as they started to look for work. The unemployment rate, which is the ratio of unemployed persons to the labor force, remained unchanged at 9.1 percent for the third month in a row.

The BLS also calculates a broader measure of unemployment called U-6. The numerator of U-6 includes the officially unemployed, plus persons marginally attached to the labor force who would like to work but are not looking because they think there is no work, plus part-time workers who would prefer full-time work, but can't find it. The denominator includes the labor force plus the marginally attached. U-6 increased from 16.2 to 16.5 percent in September, its fifth increase in the past six months.

Another important labor market indicator, the employment-population ratio, increased slightly in September, but remained just above its all-time low reached in July. The long decline in the employment-population ratio primarily reflects an aging population, but cyclical factors, like more discouraged workers, have also kept this indicator at a low level.

Follow this link to view or download a short classroom-ready slideshow with graphical presentations of the main employment indicators.

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