U.S. September Employment Numbers — Who Cares?

This week saw the release of September employment numbers by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than two weeks after the original scheduled date due to the government shutdown. But who cares, since nothing really changed in the economy two weeks ago. The impact is more like remembering an anniversary or a birthday a couple weeks late. It just doesn’t have much impact.

It was another completely lackluster release, with just 148,000 net new jobs added in the month. This compared to a forecast gain by economists of 185,000 jobs.

The graph below shows the slow but steady recovery in jobs. At the current pace of job growth, 12 months from now we will have the same number of jobs last seen in January 2008. This makes the current recovery the second longest in history, rivaled only by the Great Depression.

10-23-13a graph

Here’s where the gains and losses broke down last month:

  • Government added 22,000 jobs (all in state and local government)
  • Construction employment increased 20,000
  • Wholesale trade segment added 16,000
  • Transportation and warehousing grew by 23,000, of which 18,000 were predominantly in transit and ground transportation
  • 32,000 new jobs in professional and business services employment (which has averaged 52,000 per month in the past year)
  • 20,000 new jobs in temporary help services
  • Building materials and garden supply jobs gained 5,000
  • 4,000 new automobile dealer jobs
  • 7,000 added health care jobs (which added 27,000 jobs per month in 2012, and year-to-date has grown by 19,000 per month)
  • Food services (food and drinking establishments) dropped 7,000 jobs versus adding 28,000 per month average in the prior 12 month
  • Credit intermediation lost 8,000 jobs

So what does all this mean? The real impact is likely on the Federal Reserve, which now has some justification to continue Quantitative Easing as the year heads to an end.

Essentially, we just kicked the can further down the same road with no recognizable change.


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