This morning’s Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the month of September came in weaker than expected. There were 136,000 jobs added in September, falling short of the expectation of an added 145,000 jobs. The one bright spot was the headline unemployment rate (U3) which fell to 3.5% from 3.7%. The broadest measure of labor underutilization (U6) also fell from 7.2% to 6.9%. The last time U3 was this low was December 1969.
Employment strength was in health care, business and professional services, government, and transportation and warehousing. Of note, government employment (+22,000) was expected to be boosted by Census hiring of about 15,000, but that turned out to be negligible, with only 1,000 Census workers added. The other sectors were essentially unchanged. And the prior two month’s totals were revised up by a combined 45,000 jobs. Average hourly earnings were down slightly (-1 cent) and the year over year growth rate is not 2.9%.
It hasn’t been a great week for economic data releases, and today’s Employment Situation report continues that string of underwhelming news.