September job growth falls short of expectations

October 8, 2004

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 96,000 in September, but fell short of the 148,000 jobs forecast by Wall Street economists. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor reported. Over the previous 3 months, payroll employment rose by 103,000 on average. In September, modest job gains occurred in a few service-providing industries.

The number of unemployed persons was unchanged at 8.0 million in September, and the unemployment rate held at 5.4 percent, seasonally adjusted. The jobless rate is down from its most recent high of 6.3 percent in June 2003; most of this decline occurred in the second half of last year.

Within the goods-producing sector, manufacturing employment edged down in September (-18,000), with small job losses occurring throughout the durable and nondurable goods components of the industry. Manufacturing had added88,000 jobs in the previous seven months, with most of the gains registered from March through May.

Referring to the recent hurricanes' possible effects on employment, the BLS report said that at the national level, the severe weather appears to have held down employment growth, but not enough to change materially the Bureau's assessment of the employment situation in September.

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