Figures released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the economy created 104,000 new private sector jobs in September. The official unemployment rate fell to 7.8%.
The job creation figures are seasonally adjusted. Governments added an additional 10,000 new jobs for a total net gain of 114,000 jobs. On the unemployment front, the official rate declined to 7.8%. This is the lowest number since Obama took office back in 2009. This is also the first time in four years that the rate has dropped below 8%. Wages also rose in September and more people started looking for work.
There were revisions up of payroll employment in July to 181,000 from 141,000 and in August from 96,000 to 142,000. There were still 12.1 million Americans unemployed but this was a drop of 456,000 over August.
An alternative measure of unemployment, called the U6, also counts part-time workers seeking full time jobs and some who want jobs but have stopped looking for them in the unemployment statistics. The U6 remained at 14.7%. The total number of unemployed or underemployed by this measure would be 27.4 million Americans.
The payroll services firm Automated Data Processing estimated that 162,000 private jobs were created in September, a figure considerably above that of the government. Both ADP and another firm BLS often have estimates that differ considerably from the official statistics.
The number of Americans unemployed for a period of six months or more has also declined. In August the figure was 5 million but in September this fell to 4.8 million. The employment to population ratio increased from 58.3% to 58.7%. Although the job growth in September 2012 was 114,000, in September 2011 it was 202,000. Back in September 2008 in the recession the economy lost 432,000 jobs.
Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets said in a note to his clients:"An overall better-than-expected jobs report, consistent with most recent data that suggest the economy is gaining some momentum. The sizeable drop in the unemployment rate could lift the President's re-election chances following a post-debate dip."
After the release of the figures, the stock market made a moderate gain. While there are now 325,000 more jobs than when Obama took office, the recovery has been slow, even if steady. Many of the jobs added in September were part-time. The number of people with part-time jobs seeking full time jobs actually rose from 7.5% to 8.6%. No doubt Republicans and Democrats will pick out the figures that favor their own cause in the presidential campaign.