The Labor Department reported Tuesday that U.S. employers added just 148,000 jobs in September, fewer than the average monthly gain of 185,000 jobs over the last year.
The report appears to indicate that employers cut back on hiring in September just before a partial 16-day government shutdown began.
The release of the September jobs report had been delayed by the shutdown. It is expected that temporary layoffs during the shutdown will depress October’s job gain.
The weak job gains last month show that the labor market was losing momentum before the shutdown and that the shutdown was the last thing a fragile economy needed.
Several economists say the shutdown cut $25 billion out of the economy.
Robert Mellman, senior U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase, forecasts that October’s job gains will be about 35,000 jobs lower because of cutbacks at government contractors and other companies affected by the shutdown.
“The shenanigans in Congress have hurt confidence and increased uncertainties, most likely hurting both consumer and business spending as well as hiring.”
The unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent in September from 7.3 percent in August but most of the drop in the unemployment rate this year has occurred because many people have either given up looking or have postponed their job searches by remaining in school.
There were some positive signs in the September jobs report, especially in some higher-paying industries.
Construction companies added 20,000 jobs; transportation and warehousing gained 23,400 jobs, government added 22,000 jobs and manufacturing added 2,000 jobs.
The report was less impressive for lower-paying industries. Hotels and resultants cut about 11,000 jobs.
After the government shutdown, House Republicans said they would continue to fight the Affordable Care Act, the cause of the budget standoff.
President Barack Obama said he would focus on immigration reform.
Both of these controversial issues will lead to continued division and inaction.
The September jobs report shows the president and Congress still need to focus on the issue, what polls continuously show is the top priority for most Americans increasing jobs and improving the economy.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)
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