Hiring picked up a bit in September as employers added 103,000 jobs over the month, the government said Friday in a report that’s likely to ease fears that the economy is hurtling toward another recession.
But the job growth wasn’t strong enough to lower the unemployment rate, which remained stuck at 9.1% for the third straight month. What’s more, manufacturing payrolls shrank, and government continued its sharp cutbacks.
Still, the latest statistics provided some encouraging signs. The Labor Department said the average workweek for all private-sector workers edged up in September. And statisticians said employers in August added 57,000 jobs, not zero as previously reported, and July’s job count was also revised up to 127,000 from 85,000 initially reported.
In all, that puts the third quarter’s average monthly job growth at 96,000 jobs -– still not enough to keep up with the population growth and bring down the unemployment rate. Job growth averaged 166,000 a month in the first quarter of this year.
The September jobs were partially inflated by the return to work of striking Verizon workers, just as their temporary absence from their jobs lowered the August job numbers. Apart from that, professional and business services led the industries in job growth by adding 48,000 to their payrolls last month. Healthcare employment rose by 44,000, and the long-declining construction sector added an unexpectedly large 26,000 jobs over the month.
The ranks of the unemployed, however, remained at about 14 million. And about 45% of these workers last month said they had been without jobs for six months or more.
Also, the number of part-time workers who want full-time hours rose sharply over the month, to 9.3 million, from 8.8 million in August. Including these workers and those who have quit looking because they don’t see hope of getting hired, the percent of unemployed and underemployed in the U.S. rose to 16.5% in September, up from 16.2% in the prior month.