Unemployment drops to 5.9 percent

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U.S. employers added 248,000 jobs in September, pushing the nation’s unemployment rate down to a six-year low of 5.9 percent.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said today that employment increased in professional and business services (81,000 jobs), retail trade (35,000 jobs) and health care (23,000 jobs).

Reuters said the results showed a stronger labor market than analysts had anticipated and provided further evidence of the gains made this year.

"As demand is continuing to accelerate just a bit, businesses are being compelled to hire at faster pace," Russell Price, an economist at Ameriprise Financial in Troy, Mich., told the news service.

The government revised upward the job gains it tallied for July and August to show a total of 69,000 more jobs than it previously reported.

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and people who completed temporary jobs decreased by 306,000 in September, to 4.5 million, the government said. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged, at 3 million, in September. Those people accounted for 31.9 percent of the unemployed.

The government said the number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in September at 7.1 million. Those people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In September, 2.2 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, a figure essentially unchanged from a year earlier, the government said. 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 in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks that preceded the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 698,000 discouraged workers in September, down by 154,000 from a year earlier, the government said. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

Discouraged workers are people who are not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million people marginally attached to the labor force in September had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.