U.S. Employment Rises Much Less Than Expected In September

The US economy added 134,000 jobs in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it the 96th consecutive month of growth. Job gains in July and August were revised up a combined 87,000 from the original reports.

Beyond the headline number, there are a few key things that economists will look for - wage growth, namely will higher wages and plentiful jobs attract more people back into the market.

August's employment report was positive, with unemployment remaining at 3.9 percent and wage growth, which has been stagnant, moving up to 2.9 percent from a year earlier.

In September the USA unemployment rate fell to 3.7% compared to 3.9% in July.

By education level, less-educated workers appear to have been the biggest gainers. Teen unemployment fell by 0.3 percent to 12.8 percent. While the employment rate (EPOP) for prime-age women (ages 25 to 54) edged up slightly to 72.9 percent, tying its recovery high hit in July, the EPOP for prime-age men dropped 0.1 percentage points to 85.9 percent, 0.5 percentage points below the peak reached in February. However, these numbers are erratic and the rise in involuntary part-time may be partly due to the hurricane.

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The modest job gains came after private payrolls firm ADP said hiring surged 230,000 in the month, but the two reports often diverge since they calculate employment differently. The 12.2 percent September rate is the lowest since February. The combination of wages and jobs means that overall payrolls rose by 0.5 percent in August - a good foundation for future growth.

The growth in the number of jobs in the US there is 96 consecutive months, from October 2010, the time of the presidency of Barack Obama.

Employees temporarily left unable to work during natural disasters can be left off the government's monthly jobs survey, especially part time workers who receive no pay during the week of the survey, meaning figures can rebound in the month after a storm. Coal mining, however, lost 300 jobs.

While employment growth was strong in these sectors, it was accompanied by a drop in hours. Construction workers fared a bit better at +2.8% hourly and +3.6% weekly.

As for USA sectors where jobs prospects dimmed, "retail" (-20,000) had the worst record in September, followed by "leisure and hospitality" (-17,000).

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