Job Growth Nearly Stagnant, Unemployment Drops

October 6, 2006 ( - Non-farm payroll employment inched up by a meager 51,000 jobs in September, a downturn from the 128,000 jobs added the month before, according to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Reuters reported the near-stagnant growth fell below economists’ expectations, and was the weakest it had been since October 2005, when only 37,000 jobs were added.

The unemployment rate was also lower than expected, dipping from 4.7% in August to 4.6% in September, still not wavering from the 4.6% to 4.8% range it has stayed in for the year, according to Reuters (See  Job Growth Modest, Unemployment Down in August).

In September, employment in health care services and financial services grew, with health care adding 24,000 jobs   and financial services, 16,000, according to the BLS data. However, real estate employment remained unchanged, a position it has kept since April.

Within professional and business services – which has seen a 416,000-job increase over the past 12 months – accounting and bookkeeping services added 10,000 jobs, and employment in the management of companies and enterprises climbed by 6,000. The month saw little change in the employment of temporary job services, which has remained relatively unchanged for the year.

Employment in the food services and drinking places industry edged up in September, adding 15,000 jobs, just below the 16,000 increase in August.

Also, employment in the durable goods sector of wholesale continued its upward trend. However, the sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores portion of the retail industry scaled back about 8,000 jobs, as did merchandise stores.

Mirroring the housing market slowdown, employment in construction changed very little. Job gains in construction have averaged 6,000 per month since February, compared to increases of about 27,000 per month for the last 12 months. Manufacturing lost 19,000 jobs in September, attributed mostly to a decrease in factory jobs related to home building.