After last month, many economists were expecting low job growth for September and possibly even a slight uptick in the overall unemployment number. Happily, new jobs created not only came in barely over the consensus forecast — 114,000 actual where most forecasts were at 110,000 — but also the overall unemployment number dipped from 8.1 to 7.8 percent, where the consensus forecast had been somewhere between “no change” and 8.3 percent.
But the number of “involuntary part-time workers” (those who would work full-time if they could, but who can only find part-time work) jumped up from 8 million in August to 8.6 million in September (a 7.5 percent increase). Also, the number of “persons marginally attached to the work force” (those who can’t find jobs, and haven’t had a job in 12 months or more) remains almost unchanged from its value one year ago at 2.5 million persons. That said, the number of “discouraged workers” (people currently not looking for work because they believe there are no jobs to be had) was at 802,000 for September, a decrease of 235,000 from the same month in 2011. The remaining 1.7 million persons in the marginally attached group did not search for work in September owing to family responsibilities, school, or other commitments.
Healthcare and transportation were the big gainers in September, with bumps of 44,000 and 17,000 respectively. Transportation is actually transportation and warehousing, where the 17,000 breaks into 9,000 for transit and ground passenger transport and 4,000 for warehousing and storage. Manufacturing dropped by a similar amount (-16,000) in September, with another -6,000 in computer and electronic products, and -3,000 more for printing and related activities. Overall, the home sector for this blog — the information, computing, and related services niches — continues flat with little change either up or down.
Looks like both presidential candidates will be able to mine these numbers to paint contrasting pictures of our current employment situation. Certainly, job growth is not robust enough for anybody to like it much, but a decrease in overall unemployment this close to the election can’t help but benefit the incumbent, while continued slow growth mode and lackluster performance in key economic driving sectors (such as manufacturing) will probably play in the challenger’s favor. Should be interesting to see how these numbers get spun, starting today. All in all though, it looks as if slow growth mode remains the order of the days, weeks, months — and possibly even, years — ahead!