BLS Employment Situation Report: September 2016

The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in September, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although total nonfarm payroll was down 11,000 from August and fell slightly short of economist forecasts, the job market is holding steady. While the unemployment rate rose slightly to 5 percent, it is being viewed as a positive, signifying that more Americans are returning to the workforce.

Moderate U.S. payroll gains for September
Falling just short of a predicted 172,000 jobs added, the employment situation for September remained steady. In fact, despite a slower payroll gain than the same time last year, economists say the job market is still solid for accommodating labor force growth, reported Bloomberg. Moreover, consumer spending remains strong and continues to be the driving force of U.S. expansion this year.

"Job gains are slowing down a bit but it's not such a concern," Scott Brown, chief economist for Raymond James Financial Inc., said before the report. "What matters is that the job market is getting tighter. The fundamentals look strong for consumer spending."

Total nonfarm payroll employment was revised for August, up 16,000 positions from the originally reported 151,000. However, a downward revision for July offset that growth, bringing gains for both months down by 7,000 less than previously reported. Job gains have averaged 192,000 per month for the last three months.

In the wake of these figures, the Federal Reserve is still expected to raise interest rates late this year, and there was little in the report to suggest that the job gains might lead to inflation, reported the New York Times.

Hiring in healthcare sector remains robust
Last month, both the employment-population ratio and the labor force participation rate remained relatively unchanged, at 59.8 percent and 62.9 percent, respectively. The largest gains for the month occurred in the professional and business services and healthcare sectors. Professional and business services added 67,000 positions, largely in management and technical consulting services. The field of healthcare gained 33,000 jobs, bringing the total number of jobs added in the last 12 months to 445,000. Of those positions, 24,000 were in ambulatory healthcare services for the month of September. In hospitals, employment grew by 7,000.

Also continuing on an upward trend was job growth in food services and drinking places, adding 30,000 positions in September. Retail trade employment also saw gains, primarily in clothing and clothing accessories stores, which added 14,000 jobs, and in gasoline stations which gained 8,000 positions.

Employment in sectors including mining, financial activities, government, manufacturing, wholesale trade, construction and transportation, and warehousing remained relatively unchanged for the month.

Hiring expected to continue
Economists expect that hiring will continue at a substantial pace, as there are still many unemployed people looking for work, according to the New York Times. Chief United States economist at Barclays Michael Gapen told the source that he forecasts unemployment to fall as low as 4 percent by the end of next year.

"The expansion will end before you run out of labor," Gapen said.

Helping the situation is the group of prime-age workers who have stopped looking, a factor called "labor market slack" by policy makers at the Federal Reserve. The lack of participation by this group is expected to keep the pace of hiring strong, without a risk of overheating the economy.

Average hourly earnings for private nonfarm payrolls increased by $0.06 to $25.79, while average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose to $21.68 for September, a $0.05 increase.