October: 148k Jobs Added; Unemployment Rate: 7.2 %
The Labor Department said the economy added just 148,000 jobs last month, a steep drop from the 193,000 created in August.
Still, the gain was enough to lower the unemployment rate to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent in August. Unemployment remains historically high but is near a five-year low and is down from 7.9 percent at the start of 2013.
The tepid job growth makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will maintain its level of bond purchases for the rest of this year. The bond purchases are intended to lower long-term interest rates and boost borrowing and spending.
Average U.S. job growth has fallen sharply in the past three months after a promising start this year. The economy has added an average of 143,000 jobs a month from July through September. That’s down from the 182,000 average gain during from April through June and well below the 207,000-a-month pace from January through March.
A tight job market has discouraged many Americans from looking for work. The percentage of Americans working or looking for work remained at a 35-year low last month.
The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively looking for work.
The September jobs report showed that some higher-paying industries added jobs at a healthy pace. Construction companies, for example, added 20,000.
The government revised its estimates of job growth in July and August to show a slight net gain of 9,000. It said employers added 193,000 jobs in August, more than the 169,000 previously estimated. But it said just 89,000 were added in July, the fewest in more than a year and below the earlier estimated 104,000.
Growth will likely be a bit higher in the first three months of next year, as consumers and businesses make purchases and investments that were delayed during the shutdown.
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