Payrolls rise less than forecast; U.S. jobless rate falls

Coming Months

“Since the economy is potentially in flux and the data for October and November are subject to an unusual degree of distortion,” Fed policy makers are probably going to maintain stimulus for several more months, Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, wrote in an Oct. 21 research note.

Private employment, which exclude government agencies, rose 126,000 after a revised gain of 161,000. They were also projected to rise by 180,000, the survey showed.

Full-time employment climbed by 691,000 in September while part-time hiring dropped by 594,000.

Temporary Help

Employment climbed at temporary-help agencies, wholesalers, transportation and warehousing businesses, and retailers. State and local government hiring also picked up.

Josh Lefebvre, 21, started a job as a legal assistant in Alexandria, Virginia, on Oct. 7, having just graduated from Binghamton University in New York in May. He had applied for “maybe 10 or 15” jobs and worked with a staffing agency before finding his new position.

“I consider myself luckier than other people who are in my age, in that I found a job fairly quickly,” he said. “It’s been tough on a lot of people who didn’t take on internships beforehand, because it’s very competitive.”

Employment at factories increased by 2,000 following a 13,000 gain in the previous month. Construction companies added 20,000 workers, the most since February, and retailers took on almost 21,000 employees.

Average hourly earnings climbed by 0.1% to $24.09 in September from the prior month, and increased 2.1% over the past 12 months.

The average work week for all workers held at 34.5 hours in September.

Seasonal Hiring

Faster hiring that leads to bigger gains in wages would help to accelerate consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy. Even as the debate on fiscal policy heated up last month, retailers began announcing plans to add workers for the holiday-shopping season.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, is hiring 55,000 seasonal employees, a 10% rise from last year. Target Corp. said it plans to take on about 70,000 workers. Kohl’s Corp. will add about 53,000 workers for the holiday season, about the same as last year.

Through August, the U.S. had recovered 6.8 million of the 8.7 million jobs lost as a result of the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009.

President Barack Obama last week signed legislation that funds the government through mid-January and suspends the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt limit, for now ending the threat of default, which economists had warned could tip the U.S. back into a recession.

The October employment report will be pushed back to Nov. 8 from the originally scheduled Nov. 1, according to the Labor Department.

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