Labor: Job Numbers Rise, and Did in August, Too

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The U.S. economy created 110,000 jobs in September, according to the U.S. report on employment. But the good news was made even better by a correction from the Labor Department, regarding an earlier report.

Last month, the agency said that employment had fallen in August, the first drop in years. The drop caused concern, as it implied that the U.S. economy might be failing more quickly than anyone had previously thought. The news was also one of the reasons the dollar got even weaker.

But today, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said they got the data wrong, and that employment actually went up in August, not down. With job numbers going up in September, as well, that means the U.S. economy is doing much better than people had thought.

To put things in perspective, the reporting change is not the greatest possible news for laid off workers. While there were 200,000 new jobs created in the last two months, that's around half of what the economy was creating a year ago. So, employment grew, just not nearly as fast as it used to.

The recent job gains were seen in healthcare and education. The manufacturing and construction sectors lost 32,000 jobs collectively.

The news also included one odd statistic: Even though there were more jobs, the unemployment rate went up a tenth, to 4.7 percent of U.S. workers. The counter-intuitive rise was the result of more people entering the labor force and looking for jobs.

Analysts said job growth is still modest enough that they remain concerned about the housing market dragging down the economy. For them, the question that remains unanswered is whether the housing slump will spill over and hurt consumer spending — and the broader economy.

The numbers released today show that average hourly earnings rose four tenths of a percent for September and 4.1 percent from a year ago.

The Federal Reserve will take those numbers into account as it decides whether to continue interest rate cuts. The central bank has been moving to stimulate the economy with rate cuts, but it doesn't want to over-stimulate and spur inflation.

With additional reporting by Chris Arnold.



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