The U.S. Department of Labor reported this morning (Oct. 5) reported that non-farm payroll employment rose by 110,000 following upward revisions for July and August totaling 93,000 and 89,000 jobs respectively, with the latter rising from a negative 4,000. The unemployment rate remained at 4.7%.
The report was taken in different ways on Wall Street, where bears were expecting a lower number would lead the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee to cut the overnight Federal Funds rate at its October meeting after its 50-basis-point cut last month. The Labor Department report was seen as lessening --but not scotching--the chances for another rate cut.
Bulls, on the other hand, took the numbers to mean that the overall economy will be able to withstand the housing downturn without going into recession.The futures markets were pointing to a strong opening of the trading day on the news.
Still, much of the job growth was in the public sector, as health care, food services, and professional and technical services continued to add jobs, while jobs continued moving downward in manufacturing and construction. Average hourly earnings rose by 7 cents, or 0.4 percent.
The Labor Department reported both total employment (146.3 million) and the civilian labor force (153.5 million) rose in September, but that nearly half of the over-the-month increase in the labor force occurred among teenagers, offsetting a decline in August. All the growth was in service industries, with a third of the gain coming in health care. Food services and drinking places added a quarter of the gain, and the professional, technical and managerial category rose by 10,000 jobs.
The construction and mortgage businesses continued to post job losses, with residential specialty trade contractors cutting 15,000 jobs in September, 160,000 since February 2006. In the mortgage arena, covered under the Labor Department designation of "credit intermediation," 12,000 jobs were lost in September, 46,000 since February this year. Manufacturing jobs continued to wane, with a drop of 18,000 in September, bringing the loss for the year-to-date to 223,000. Retail and financial service jobs both were down.