Slowing job growth in September brings in 142,000 new jobs
The U.S. economy added 142,000 new jobs in September, a figure notably below economists’ consensus expectations of closer to 200,000 payroll gains. July and August job creation was also slower than originally reported after the BLS announced combined downward revisions of 59,000 jobs for the two months, which drove the three-month average of private-sector job growth to its lowest level in nearly six years.
The unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent, largely due to declines in the number of Americans in the labor force. In September, job gains occurred primarily in education/health (+34,000), information (+12,000) and professional and business services (+31,000).
Randstad's U.S. Employee Confidence Index (ECI)
Randstad’s U.S. Employee Confidence Index (ECI) remained largely unchanged in Q3 2015, falling just one-tenth of a percentage point from 61.9 last quarter to 61.8. However, employee confidence remains exceptionally high, with 2015 marking the first year the U.S. ECI has reached 60.0 points or higher since the survey’s inception in 2004.
U.S. Job Gains
Lower than expected job gains of 142,000 in September were worsened by downward revisions for July from 245,000 to 223,000, and for August from 173,000 to 136,000. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 167,000, well below the 2014 average of 260,000.
U.S. Unemployment Rate
The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.1 percent in September, as the decline in the number of Americans employed was counter balanced by a drop in the number of people working or looking for jobs.
U.S. Unemployment Rate by Industry
Issues continue to plague the oil industry with the mining, logging and manufacturing industries absorbing the greatest job declines. The reduction of big-ticket orders for drilling rigs and similar items along with decreasing exports resulted in a loss of 9,000 manufacturing jobs in September. In contrast, the healthcare and professional and business services sectors added 34,000 and 31,000 new jobs, respectively.
Temporary Help Services Sector
The temporary help services sector grew in September, albeit at a slower rate than the previous month. The industry added 4,600 jobs, a 0.2 percent increase from August and up 3.7 percent from one year ago. In addition, the temporary help services market share grew to 2.04 percent in September.
Average Weekly Earnings
Workers’ wage growth remains stubbornly anemic, with exactly zero pay increase gained last month. Average hourly earnings were flat at $25.09, following a 9-cent gain in August. Hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent over the year, approximately at the same pace that has occurred during the entire economic recovery.
Notable in the September U.S. jobs report was the declining labor-force participation rate, which marks the percentage of Americans in the labor force. This number fell to 62.4 percent in September, a drop from the 62.6 percent rate of the prior three months and the indicator’s lowest reading since nearly four decades earlier in October 1977. The current rate signals that just slightly more than six in 10 of all working-age Americans have or are looking for a job. A portion of the decline in participation can be attributed to large numbers of Baby Boomer retirements combined with younger people choosing to go to college or attend school longer before entering the job market.