Magazine article Economic Trends

The Employment Situation, September

Magazine article Economic Trends

The Employment Situation, September

Article excerpt

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 110,000 net jobs in September, the highest net increase since May 2007. This increase was within expectations. It is still below the average increase of 122,000 jobs per month in 2007. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also revised its August payroll numbers significantly, reporting a job gain of 89,000 instead of a 4,000 job loss. The major reason for the difference that local figures for local education services were revised significantly; an increase of 39,000 was the final number, instead of a 31,000 decline as initially reported. We pointed out the erratic behavior of employment in local education services and suggested that it might be the reason behind the anomaly in the initial report last month. September's job gains along with the revision for August imply an average monthly increase in payrolls of 97,300 in the third quarter of 2007--the lowest average monthly increase in a quarter since the third quarter of 2003.

The service-providing sector continued to grow in September, adding 143,000 jobs and offsetting the decline of 33,000 jobs in the goods-producing sector. The construction sector continued to suffer, losing 14,000 jobs. Most of the loss happened in the residential construction sector--about 20,000 jobs. However, nonresidential construction added an unusual 10,000 jobs to payrolls, suggesting a relocation of the construction workforce, from the residential to the nonresidential sector. Education and health services and leisure and hospitality services continued to be a major source of job growth within the service-providing sector; together they added 80,000 jobs. Professional and business services and the government sector contributed another 58,000. Finally, the unemployment rate is virtually unchanged at 4.7 percent, slightly higher than the average in 2006 and in 2007 so far.

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Overall, the payroll employment pictures seems to indicate moderate employment growth, improving since the summer months but still below the levels we have experienced in the past 15 quarters.

Labor Market Conditions
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