The Labor Department reported that the economy added 156,000 jobs in September, somewhat less than most economists had projected. The job growth figures were also on net revised down slightly for the prior two months, so that the average for the last three months stands at 192,000. The unemployment rate edged up to 5.0 percent, but this was due to a large number of people entering the workforce, as the employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) also rose by 0.1 percentage point to 59.8 percent. The EPOP for prime age workers reversed its decline last month and stood at 78.0 percent. However, this is still more than two full percentage points below its pre-recession peak.
Other news in the household survey was mostly positive. The number of people involuntarily working part-time hit a new low for the recovery. It is now down by more than 3.3 million from the recession peak, although it is still well above the pre-recession level. The duration measures of unemployment all fell, with the share of long-term unemployed dropping by 1.2 percentage points, a new low for the recovery. One negative was a modest decline in the share of unemployment due to voluntary job leavers, which remains more than a full percentage point below its pre-recession peak.
On the establishment side, professional business services, which added 67,000 jobs, construction, which added 23,000, and retail which added 22,000 were big job gainers, along with health care, 32,700 and restaurants, 29,700. Manufacturing lost 13,000 jobs and government lost 11,000. There was a modest increase in average weekly hours, reversing last month's decline. Wages grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate over the last three months, compared with the prior three, the same as their pace in August.