Economy adds 156K jobs while jobless rate ticks up

Economy adds 156K jobs while jobless rate ticks up
© Getty Images

The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent.


The Labor Department’s report came in slightly below economist expectations of 175,000 jobs, but the labor market continues to grow as more people look for work.

The next jobs report will be released just days before the November elections.

Strong jobs growth and steady economic news could give Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE a chance to sell her economic agenda as more viable than Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE’s plan.

In a statement, Trump's campaign said the September numbers are further proof "the Clinton-Obama economy is failing" American workers.

“The report shows a troubling long-term trend: after seven hard years of the Clinton-Obama administration their policies still can't produce better-paying jobs and upward mobility,” wrote David Malpass, Trump’s senior economic adviser.

But with early voting beginning in many states, voters may not be swayed much by labor market growth.

"Let’s not forget, though, that ballots are already being cast across much of the country between absentee ballots and early voting," said Mark Hamrick,’s senior economic analyst.

"It is highly unlikely that the storyline about the economy is going to change so much that it alone would shift allegiances in the presidential slugfest."

Jason FurmanJason FurmanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Biden: We will fix nation's problems White House scrambles to avert supply chain crisis The Fed needs to articulate its framework for inflation MORE, chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said that real wages have grown faster over the current business cycle than in any since the early 1970s.

"Still, more work remains to sustain faster wage growth and to ensure that the benefits of the recovery are broadly shared, including increasing investment in infrastructure and implementing the high-standards Trans-Pacific Partnership," Furman said in a statement.

Last month, the Census Bureau reported that incomes increased 5.2 percent in 2015, the fastest yearly growth on record.

The economy has maintained a steady pace of jobs growth through the first nine months of the year, but Republicans have shown no signs of fatigue in criticizing President Obama for slow growth.

“While some in Washington believe today’s underwhelming report is as good as it gets, House Republicans understand that our economy would be so much stronger if we took action on pro-growth policies,” said Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyYellen confident of minimum global corporate tax passage in Congress 136 countries agree to deal on global minimum tax Rift widens between business groups and House GOP MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“This is the slow-growth status quo that has come to define the Obama Administration’s weak economic leadership,” Brady said.

Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, said Obama has created 10.6 million jobs so far, compared with 1.3 million jobs created during President George W. Bush’s administration. 

The economy grew at a sluggish 1.4 percent pace in the April–June quarter.

Economists have predicted that jobs growth will slow as the labor market moves toward full employment.

For the year, growth has averaged 178,000 jobs per month, compared with an average of 229,000 per month in 2015.

Curt Long, chief economist for the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, said Friday’s report mostly met expectations.

"While job growth was slightly less than anticipated, key areas like labor force participation and wage growth ticked up," Long said.

"The results keep the Fed on track to raise rates in December,” he said.

Economists pointed to the average of jobs created per month — 192,000 over the past three months — as a sign of steady labor market growth.

Furman said that the pace of jobs growth easily exceeds the 80,000 needed each month to lower the unemployment rate.

"U.S. businesses have now added 15.3 million jobs since early 2010, and the longest streak of total job growth on record continued in September," he said.

And the unemployment rate ticked up for a good reason: More people have jumped back into the job market.

The labor force expanded by 444,000 last month, the labor participation rate ticked up, and 354,000 more people were employed in September, a good sign as the job market tightens.

Hamrick said that “slow and steady is to be expected for a recovery that began seven years ago and shows no immediate sign of ending.”

Job losses in manufacturing continued to weigh on the market last month, shedding 13,000 employees.

But mining, which been shedding jobs for two years, was unchanged last month, declining by 220,000 from a peak in September 2014.

Healthcare added 33,000 jobs in September and has added 445,000 over the past 12 months.

Retailers added 22,000 jobs, and construction tacked on 23,000 to payrolls.

Jobs growth also could sway the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year.

Wages also improved this month. Hourly earnings rose by 0.2 percent and have grown 2.6 percent over the past year.

Job growth picked up pace over the summer after a weak spring.

The economy added an average 232,000 jobs in June through August.

In the past two months, there were 7,000 fewer total jobs than previously reported. July's figure was revised down to 252,000 from 275,000, while August was revised up to 167,000 from 151,000.

— Updated at 11:37 a.m.