Economy adds only 142K jobs in September

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The U.S. economy added a disappointing 142,000 jobs in September, reflecting a slowdown in the labor market amid turbulent global growth.

The jobless rate remained at 5.1 percent, maintaining the lowest level since April 2008, but only because people stopped looking for work last month, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

The data raises concerns about the resilience of the U.S. economy and could signal weaker growth after a strong showing in the April–June quarter, when the expansion hit a 3.9 percent annual pace.

{mosads}Jobs gains in July and August were 59,000 less than initially reported as Chinese policy changes pushed down the value of its currency and roiled financial markets in August.

Economists had forecast 200,000 new jobs and were expecting to see a strong rebound heading into the final three months of the year.

Instead, August’s figures were revised down to 136,000 from 173,000.

Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Analytics, said the collapse in oil prices and surge in the value of the dollar is doing more damage to the energy and manufacturing sectors than he thought. 

“Businesses seem to have also turned more cautious given the heightened volatility in global financial markets,” Zandi said. 

He is still optimistic that underlying job growth remains near 200,000 and that the labor market is tightening even with these fluctuations. 

Job gains in the past three months fell to 167,000, which should be enough to lower the unemployment rate but at a slower pace than the 221,000 from June through August.

The percentage of people participating in the job market hit the lowest level since October 1977.

While the number of unemployed workers declined by 114,000 it was because they left the labor force.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said “too many middle-class families are still struggling in this economy, and we can do a lot better.”  

“Moreover, there is no excuse for the president to continue pushing an agenda that will hurt hardworking families and stifle economic growth,” he said.

Boehner, who is leaving Congress at the end of the month, cited an ozone rule announced this week by the Obama administration that he said would hit every industry and put many jobs at risk. 

Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the pace of growth is being affected by slowing growth abroad and global financial turmoil.

But he argued that the private sector has added 13.2 million jobs over 67 straight months — the longest streak on record. 

“Given the increased uncertainty around the world, it is imperative that the United States not further exacerbate that uncertainty with unnecessary brinkmanship and austerity,” he said.

Congress cleared a stopgap resolution on Wednesday that will keep the government running into December. But lawmakers face a deadline to raise the debt-limit on Nov. 5, weeks earlier than initially expected.

And despite a 5.1 percent unemployment rate, there is still no pressure on wages to rise.

Average hourly wages fell by a penny and have only gained 2.2 percent in the past year.

Manufacturing, which has been hit harder by the stronger dollar and fewer U.S. exports, posted a loss of 9,000 jobs in September. The sector has shed a total of 27,000 in the past two months.

Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, said the data “reflect the sluggishness of the current activity, as firms struggle to overcome significant headwinds in the broader economy.”

Meanwhile, the energy sector’s struggles continued with employment in mining falling by 10,000. Overall, mining employment has fallen by 102,000 since reaching a peak in December 2014.

Updated at 11:02 a.m.

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