Surprise! Companies Add 57,000 Jobs in September

October 3, 2003 ( - For the first time since the beginning of 2003, US companies actually added jobs in September instead of slashing them left and right as they have all year, the government reported.

According to the highly anticipated US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ payrolls data, hiring managers added a whopping 57,000 positions during September. It was the first such addition since January. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.1% in September.

Not only was the latest report positive, the Labor Department also shaved its alarming August payrolls report to show that 41,000 positions were lost instead of the previously reported 93,000.

While 29,000 more manufacturing jobs were lost in September – the 38th straight month – it was the smallest monthly decline since the 25,000 reported in July 2002. Professional and business services added jobs, as temporary help employment increased for the fifth consecutive month. Since April, temporary help has added 147,000 jobs.   Architectural and engineering services employment increased by 9,000 in September. Health care and social assistance had a 15,000-jobs employment increase over the month. 


Within transportation and warehousing, air transportation added 3,000 jobs in September.   Employment in retail trade was little changed; however, employment increased in two of its component industries – motor vehicle and parts dealers (8,000) and building material and garden supply stores (7,000).


Construction employment continued to move up.   Since February, the industry has added 137,000 jobs, with most of the gains among special trade contractors.

The average workweek in September was unchanged at 33.7 hours, but in the manufacturing sector alone the workweek increased to 40.4 hours from 40.2. In another indication that factories might be growing busier, overtime hours were expanded to an average 4.2 a week from 4 in August.

Wall Street economists were way off the mark in their prognostications for the September payrolls data – forecasting a 30,000-job giveback.