Latest Jobs Numbers Continue Downward Trend

By Roy Maurer Oct 2, 2015

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a lackluster 142,000 new jobs in September 2015, making it the second month in a row for disappointing numbers.

In addition, the BLS revised last month’s total downward to reflect 136,000 jobs added for August, instead of the 173,000 originally reported.

The official unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent, but hourly wages for private-sector workers fell slightly, making it an overall gloomy report.

“Though the economy continues to add jobs, this month’s report is once again under expectations and the disappointing news is compounded by downward revisions of the two previous months’ numbers,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management. “Meanwhile, wage growth is flat. These trends are not what we’d like to see as we move into the holiday hiring season.”

Job growth has averaged 198,000 per month so far this year, compared with an average monthly gain of 260,000 in 2014.

The health care (+34,000), information technology (+12,000), professional services (+31,000) retail trade (+24,000) and restaurant (+21,000) sectors comprised the bulk of hiring gains in September.

Employment in mining continued to decline in September (-10,000), with losses concentrated in support activities for mining (-7,000). Mining employment has declined by 102,000 since reaching a peak in December 2014.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, and government, showed little or no change over the month.

Average hourly earnings for all private-sector employees dropped by one cent to $25.09, after a relatively steep 9-cent gain in August. Hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent over the year.

“Even though this is the latest in a series of underwhelming reports, there are still some positives,” Schramm said. “The unemployment rate is still at its lowest level since early 2008 and the private sector has added 13.2 million jobs over 67 straight months of job growth—the longest streak on record.”

Unemployment Continues to Hold

There are officially 7.9 million unemployed individuals in the United States as of September 2015. Since January 2015, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed are down by 0.8 percentage point and 1.3 million, respectively.

The unemployment rates for adult men (4.7 percent), adult women (4.6 percent), teenagers (16.3 percent), whites (4.4 percent), blacks (9.2 percent), Asians (3.6 percent), and Hispanics (6.4 percent) showed little or no change from the previous tally.

The number of unemployed for less than 5 weeks increased by 268,000 to 2.4 million in September, while the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) sits at 2.1 million and accounts for 26.6 percent of the unemployed.

The civilian labor force participation rate—stuck on low for years—declined from 62.6 percent to 62.4 percent in September.

The number of individuals categorized as involuntary part-time workers—those seeking full-time employment, but working part time—continued to drop down to 6.0 million. Additionally, 1.9 million people were considered marginally attached to the labor force—unemployed, wanting and available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. Among this group, 635,000 individuals were considered discouraged—not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million people marginally attached to the labor force in June had not searched for work in the past month for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities, according to BLS.

“Economists predicted far more jobs would be added this month and the markets are already jumpy because of uncertainty both globally and at home,” Schramm said. “This uncertainty could begin to influence hiring decisions especially if we have to endure yet another showdown over the debt ceiling. So what happens this month will be important and we’ll see its impact in the next jobs report.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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