With the presidential election about a month away, and the economy and job creation the main focus of this week’s presidential debate, all eyes were on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ September unemployment summary released today.
The report brought good news: The jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August, the first time it’s dropped below 8 percent in 44 months, or almost four years.
According to the report, the BLS estimates that the economy added 114,000 jobs. Employment increased in health care, transportation and warehousing, showing that the nation continues to experience slow but steady job growth.
More highlights from the report:
- Fewer people lost jobs. In September, the number of workers who lost jobs or ended work due to temporary employment decreased by 468,000 to 6.5 million.
- The labor participation rate increased slightly. The labor participation rate indicates the number of Americans actively seeking jobs. The rate increased from 63.5 percent in August to 63.6 percent in September. While this was a slight increase, it’s still a good sign. In the past few months, the unemployment rate fell because more people stopped looking for jobs. This means that the lowered jobless rate is the product of jobs being created, rather than job seekers giving up on their search.
- The number of discouraged workers declined. The number of discouraged workers — those who aren’t looking for a job because they don’t believe any are available — declined by 235,000 from a year earlier.
- Involuntary part-time employment was up from August, down from year prior. The number of involuntary part-time job seekers rose from 8 million in August to 8.6 million in September. These are job seekers who are working part time because they weren’t able to find a full-time job or their hours were cut back. However, this number has decreased from 9.3 million a year prior.
- July and August hiring numbers rose. The BLS revised estimated job gains for July and August by a total of 86,000. July’s total rose from 141,000 to 181,000, while the August number increased from 96,000 to 142,000.
- The September numbers may still change. It’s important to note that this is an initial estimate and that the numbers may change once additional data are reviewed. Not only did the July and August numbers increase from earlier reports, but according to a report released last week, the economy added 386,000 more jobs than previously estimated between April 2011 and March 2012, bringing that period’s total hiring to 2.3 million.