The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just delivered another not-at-all encouraging employment report, with payroll employment down another 263,000 for the month of September, the unemployment rate up to 9.8%, and U-6 unemployment (which includes what the BLS calls “discouraged workers” who have given up actively looking for jobs, plus “marginally attached workers” and a few other such categories) up to 17.0%.
It’s the payroll employment numbers that are usually worth paying the most attention to, because they’re from a survey with a far larger sample size than the unemployment data. The payroll decline was markedly worse than Bloomberg’s consensus forecast of 175,000 jobs lost, although the consensus measure, as always, lagged what a lot of the more plugged-in forecasters had been saying over the past couple of days. The all-knowing team at Goldman Sachs, for example, raised their forecast yesterday rom 200,000 to 250,000 jobs lost.
The report also included small downward revisions to the July and August payroll numbers, plus a preliminary 824,000-job downward “benchmark revision” for the year. Put it all together and, since the start of the recession in December 2007, 7.2 million jobs have been lost. Oh, and hourly earnings were only barely up (0.1%) for September and hours worked were down 0.1%. As usual, health care was the only the only big sector reporting a gain in employment and construction continued to be the worst-hit sector.
All in all, it’s not a report that really proves anything one way or the other—it’s just a month’s worth of preliminary data. But it definitely doesn’t provide much in the way of encouragement. And the argument that we’re in the middle of a recessionary W has probably just gained a few more adherents.
Update: Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics offers a teeny-weeny bit of encouragement:
The details are not quite as bad as the headline because the govt component fell a hefty 53K, so private payrolls were down 210K, not statistically different from Aug’s -182K but better than previous months.