Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 137,000 and overall payroll employment rose by 103,000 in September. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 percent, a level that is unacceptably high. Despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds experienced throughout the year, the economy has added private sector jobs for 19 straight months, for a total of 2.6 million jobs over that period.
Clearly, we need faster economic growth to put Americans back to work. Today’s report underscores the President’s call for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more money in the pockets of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to keep teachers in the classroom; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while not adding to the deficit over ten years.
Sectors with employment increases in September included professional and business services (+48,000), health care and social assistance (+40,800), information (+34,000, which includes about 45,000 returning Verizon strikers), and construction (+26,000). Sectors with employment declines included government (-34,000) and manufacturing (-13,000). Local government lost 35,000 jobs, and has shed 383,000 jobs since February 2010, including 225,000 jobs in educational services.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
Katharine Abraham is a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers.