The U.S. economy produced 156,000 new jobs in September, although the nation’s jobless rate edged up to 5 percent as the steadily improving labor market continued to attract job seekers.
The Labor Department said job gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care. The increase followed an upwardly revised August gain of 167,000. The total for July was revised down from 275,000 to 252,000, which means the total for those two months is 7,000 lower than previously reported. Reuters said the third consecutive month of slower job growth could add to the caution the Federal Reserve has shown about raising interest rates.
"It's an economy that is doing OK. It's not necessarily accelerating, but it's certainly doing OK," Jonathan Lewis, chief investment officer at Fiera Capital in New York, told Reuters.
The government said job gains have averaged 192,000 during the past three months.
The September figure was below economists’ median forecast of 172,000, but Bloomberg reported that the job figures included the biggest drop in government employment in a year and that the labor participation rate, at 62.9 percent, was at a six-month high.
Hourly wages for private sector workers rose 2.6 percent in September from the same month a year earlier, which Reuters said was in line with expectations.
The government said the number of people employed part time for economic reasons was little changed in September, at 5.9 million. Those people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours were cut or they were unable to find a full-time job.
In September, 1.8 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, a figure the government said was about unchanged from a year earlier. The data are not seasonally adjusted.
Those people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime during the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work during the four weeks that preceded the survey.