Economy Added 194,000 Jobs In September As Unemployment Rate Falls To 4.8 Percent

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UPDATED, 10:08 AM PT: President Joe Biden characterized the latest jobs figures as progress, even if the growth in employment was less than economists had expected.

“Jobs up, wages up, unemployment down. That’s progress,” Biden said, as he tried to make the case that the situation is improving.

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He also noted that the figures were from a survey from mid-September, before Covid-19 cases began to decline.

“Right now things in Washington are awfully noisy. Turn on the news, and every conversation is a confrontation,” he said.

Most of his remarks focused on the need to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and the larger “human” infrastructure proposal. He pitched the legislation as a way to better compete with China.

“These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency,” he said.

PREVIOUSLY: The economy added a modest and lower-than-expected 194,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.8%.

The figures, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, were another indication of the toll that the Delta variant has had on Americans returning to the workforce, with the second straight month of job growth that has been disappointing.

Leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 74,000 in September, with 43,000 in arts, entertainment, and recreation. But there was little change in employment of restaurant workers. And employment in local government education fell by 144,000, despite the return of in-person teaching and the start of the school year.

There was a 14,000 job uptick in movie and sound recording, as well as 11,000 in publishing.

Jason Furman, Harvard professor and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter that the numbers are “worse than we would like but better than they look. Most important is the headline: 194,000 jobs.” He noted, among other things, that nominal wages are up, along with hours.

One figure cited by the BLS was the 13.2% of those who have been teleworking — that is essentially unchanged from the prior month. There is some expectation that the numbers will improve in October, as Covid-19 cases began to fall in late September.

President Joe Biden is expected to address the latest numbers on Friday morning.

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