On October 2nd the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly update for U.S. nonfarm payroll employment. The number of seasonally adjusted jobs increased by a meager 142,000 workers in September.
Despite the weak job growth in September, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.1% and is likely to continue on a downward trend for the remainder of the year.
For the month of September job growth occurred in five major areas.
• Health care added 34,000 jobs in September. This is slightly below the average increase of 38,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. About 16,000 jobs were added in hospitals and another 13,000 in ambulatory health care services.
• Employment in information rose by 12,000 in September. The sector has about 44,000 more workers than a year ago.
• During September professional and business services added 31,000 jobs. This is well below the average of 45,000 per month so far this year. By comparison, the sector increased by an average of 59,000 in 2014. Notable job gains occurred in computer systems design and legal services. Because many companies in this sector are a part of the country’s advanced technology cluster, there are concerns that growth is not stronger.
• Retail trade employment rose by 24,000 in September. This is slightly less than the average monthly gain of 27,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Notable gains were in general merchandise stores and automobile dealers.
• Employment in food services and drinking places added 21,000 workers in September, well below the monthly average of 29,100 workers.
Once again, mining employment dropped sharply, this time a decrease of 10,000 workers. Most of the lost jobs were in support activities. Lower prices for a barrel of oil is taking a toll on the industry.
Employment in other major industries was similar to previous months.
Two things are unsettling about the employment report for September:
•The level of job growth is weak.
• The quality of jobs are weak. While it is great that people are finding work, many of the jobs have lower than average wages.
Time will tell whether the economy has headed south or if it has hit a bump in the road.