Bottom Line – Nation’s labor market perked up in September
Nation’s labor market perked up in September
David Goldman / AP
Joya Green, right, with Metro Fair Housing Services, discusses employment opportunities with Kimberly Anderson, left, of Atlanta, during a job fair at a Goodwill store in Atlanta.
By Roland Jones
The nation’s labor market perked up last month, according to the government’s latest jobs report.
U.S. employers added 103,000 net jobs in September, the government said Friday — that’s better than economists had expected, but barely enough to keep up with population growth. The nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent.
“This is good news and we’ll take it, but it’s not enough to erase the risk of recession, particularly if Europe goes down,” Diane Swonk, chief economist and senior managing director at Mesirow Financial, told CNBC.
Nearly half of the gains last month were due to 45,000 Verizon workers who returned to their jobs after dropping off payrolls in August due to a strike. Excluding those workers, payrolls increased by 58,000, roughly matching economists’ expectations for job creation in September.
The tone of Friday’s jobs report was strengthened by government revisions that showed 99,000 more jobs were added in July and August than initially reported. Also, hourly earnings rebounded, temporary hiring nudged up and the average work week rose.
“Hopefully it is sustainable and continues so that we can avoid recession,” Kurt Karl, chief U.S. economist at Swiss Re, told Reuters. “If we keep up like this we will certainly avoid that.”
White House economic adviser Gene Sperling called Friday’s jobs report good, but not good enough. Stronger job growth is needed to get unemployed Americans back to work, he said.
“It’s not nearly good enough for our economy and it’s not nearly good enough for this president,” Sperling told CNBC.
The weak U.S. economy has been a major challenge for President Barack Obama, who is gearing up for a re-election battle in November 2012.
U.S. employers slowed hiring over the summer as the economy softened, Europe’s debt crisis loomed and global stock markets swung violently. Some economists have warned that the sovereign debt crisis in Europe is threatening to derail the fragile U.S. recovery.