Where the Jobs Are

When the government released its jobs report for September, the experts had a mixed reaction: the topline totals looked pretty good, yet still missed estimates. Here, we’ll delve a bit deeper into the report to see where the economy is doing better or worse at adding jobs.

First, we’ll reiterate the topline data: the economy added 156,000 in September, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.0 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This was less than the 176,000 new jobs that economists had hoped to see, but well within the “decent-at-reducing-unemployment range that keeps headline writers from predicting doom.

Thus far this year, job growth has averaged 178,000 per month, compared with an average of 229,000 per month in 2015

Little Change

In September, both the labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.8 percent, changed little.

This is a point of contention, since the labor force participation rate has been stuck in historically low territory. Those who claim there’s been very little recovery in this recovery cite this figure, and the large population of long-term unemployed Americans it implies.

In fact, the government tracks “discouraged workers” – so-called because they’ve essentially stopped looking for work. There were 553,000 discouraged workers in September, little changed from the year before.

In September, 1.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about unchanged from a year earlier. These individuals 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 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Winning Industries

Some industries added more workers than others did. Professional and business services employment rose by 67,000 in September and has risen by 582,000 over the year.

Over the month, job gains occurred in management and technical consulting services (+16,000), and employment continued to trend up in administrative and support services (+35,000).

Health care added 33,000 jobs in September. Ambulatory health care services added 24,000 jobs over the month, and employment rose by 7,000 in hospitals. Over the past 12 months, health care has added 445,000 jobs.

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in September (+30,000) and has increased by 300,000 over the year. Retail trade employment continued to trend up over the month (+22,000).

Within the industry, job gains occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+14,000) and in gasoline stations (+8,000). Over the year, employment in retail trade has risen by 317,000.

Mining employment was unchanged in September after declining by 220,000 from a peak in September 2014.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, changed little over the month.

Wage Gains

In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 6 cents to $25.79. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.6 percent.

Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 5 cents to $21.68 in September.

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