October 7, 2016

September 2016 Employment Situation Summary (100716): 156K Jobs Added, Unemployment at 5.0 Percent

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:11 am


  • Yahoo’s Economic Calendar — 176K-190K overall jobs added; 171K-180K private-sector jobs added; unemployment rate stays at 4.9 percent; average weekly hours increase by 0.1 to 34.4; average hourly pay up by 0.2 percent.
  • Reuters — 175K jobs added.
  • Associated Press — 175K jobs added; unemployment rate stays at 4.9 percent.
  • Bloomberg News — 172K jobs added.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Benchmarks:


The economy needs to have added 700,000 overall jobs and to have only lose 300,000 in the private sector for this month’s result to be acceptable, regardless of how the seasonally adjusted conversions come in.

What to look for:

  • Any indications that the millions of people on the sidelines are getting back into the job market. As long as participation rates stay as low as they have been, the idea that the current unemployment rate reflects anything resembling full employment doesn’t hold water.
  • Whether weekly hours come back. There has been a surprising and disappointing drop in weekly hours in most states and in most industries this year.
  • Any signs of genuine life in wage increases. Despite the hype and before possible revisions today, average hourly pay is only up by 2.4 percent in the past 12 months, and average weekly pay is only up by 1.5 percent.

The report will be here at 8:30. The full report with all tables will be here.

HERE IT IS: Instant reax is that the trends are not our friends, but we’ll see after more analysis —

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 156,000 in September, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate, at 5.0 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.9 million, changed little in September. Both measures have shown little movement, on net, since August of last year.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics increased to 6.4 percent in
September, while the rates for adult men (4.7 percent), adult women (4.4 percent), teenagers
(15.8 percent), Whites (4.4 percent), Blacks (8.3 percent), and Asians (3.9 percent) showed little or no change.

The number of persons unemployed less than 5 weeks increased by 284,000 to 2.6 million in September. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.0 million and accounted for 24.9 percent of the unemployed.

In September, both the labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.8 percent, changed little.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in September at 5.9 million. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 156,000 in September. Thus far this year, job growth has
averaged 178,000 per month, compared with an average of 229,000 per month in 2015. In September,
employment gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

Professional and business services employment rose by 67,000 in September and has risen by 582,000 over the year. Over the month, job gains occurred in management and technical consulting services (+16,000), and employment continued to trend up in administrative and support services (+35,000).

Health care added 33,000 jobs in September. Ambulatory health care services added 24,000 jobs over the month, and employment rose by 7,000 in hospitals. Over the past 12 months, health care has added 445,000 jobs.

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in September (+30,000) and has increased by 300,000 over the year.

Retail trade employment continued to trend up over the month (+22,000). Within the industry, job
gains occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+14,000) and in gasoline stations (+8,000). Over the year, employment in retail trade has risen by 317,000.

Mining employment was unchanged in September after declining by 220,000 from a peak in September 2014.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade,
transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, changed
little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in September. In manufacturing, the workweek increased by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, while overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.5 hours.

In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 6 cents to $25.79. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.6 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 5 cents to $21.68 in September.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised down from +275,000 to +252,000, and the change for August was revised up from +151,000 to +167,000. With these revisions, employment gains in July and August combined were 7,000 less than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 192,000 per month.

More detail shortly.

Performance against not seasonally adjusted benchmarks:

Not seasonally adjusted total nonfarm job gains were 527,000, way lower than the 700,000 benchmark. That’s the lowest September value since 2010 and only greater than 2008, 2009 and 2010 in the past 12 years.

Not seasonally adjusted private-sector job losses were 457,000, far worse than the 300,000 jobs-lost benchmark. That’s the lowest September value since 2009.

The seasonal conversions of this data appear to be about 25,000 jobs higher than the underlying data and history would predict. In other words, the “magic number” today should have been about +130,000 jobs. That’s a negative difference, but not bad by historical standards.

Other notes (references are to seasonally adjusted data unless otherwise indicated; see the full release with all tables to find the figures referenced):

  • The 444K increase in the civilian labor force appears forced, given that the white (including Hispanics), black, Hispanic and Asian workforces increased by about half of that total. With the help of that increase and 146K increase in employment per the Household Survey, the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio both increased by 0.1 percent. Nice (if defensible), but there’s a long way to go.
  • Full-time employment dropped by 5K, but last month’s increase of 409K seemed artificially high. The opposite situation applies to part-time employment, which increase by 430K in September but decreased by 388K in August.
  • Not seasonally adjusted temporary help service employment of 3.007 million topped the 3 million threshold for the first time in any September. The seasonally adjusted 2.945 million temps is the highest figure ever, topping last December’s 2.944 million.
  • Manufacturing’s job loss of 13,000 is a bit of a kick in the teeth to the Institute for Supply Management, which just reported that the sector is expanding on Monday.
  • It’s stunning to think that 2.13 million (14.2 percent) of the 15 million jobs added in the past 6 years and 7 months have been added in the single line item known as “Food service and drinking places.” In February 2010, that line item made up 7.2 percent of all people employed.
  • At least there was a tiny increase in the average work week. There needs to be several more such increases and consistent increases of much more than the 6-cent increase in hourly pay seen this month before anyone can make a case that the wage increases Keynesians are trying to convince us are occurring really are occurring.

Overall, the report is pretty mediocre. There’s now a chance that the Fed, which has looked for any reason it can to avoid raising rates for 8 years but has appeared committed to raising rates in December, will see today’s new as an excuse to hold off even longer.


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