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U.S. added 263,000 jobs in September; unemployment falls to 3.5%

Job gains in the U.S. economy continued in September

A now hiring banner is seen outside a waste management business in Irwindale, California. U.S. federal data show continued strength in employment. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/b4c35496c2aa2aba55f4b50c4a4fb5d5/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A now hiring banner is seen outside a waste management business in Irwindale, California. U.S. federal data show continued strength in employment. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. employers added more workers than expected to payrolls in September, though an official said Friday that new hires were not as strong as last year.

U.S. employers added 263,000 hires to their headcounts in September, slightly more than expected, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. That keeps pressure on the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep going with aggressive rate hikes to cool the economy.

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Inflation is running red hot and there are lingering signs that most major economies are flirting with recession. A formal recession, however, would not have this strong of a labor market. The more payrolls increase, the stronger consumer demand becomes. That demand, in turn, contributes to inflation as it runs against various supply-side problems.

But William Beach, the commissioner for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, suggested the job market may be sputtering a bit.

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"Monthly job growth has averaged 420,000 thus far in 2022, compared with 562,000 per month in 2021," he said.

The unemployment rate of 3.5% is still considered healthy, however. The rate is down 0.2 percent from the previous month.

Nela Richardson, the chief economist at private payroll processor ADP, said earlier this week that job increases have been more or less steady for much of the year, but wage increases may be another story.

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Federal data show that hourly earnings for all non-farm employees rose by a paltry 10 cents last month. That's an increase of 0.3% from August and far below the rate of inflation. So-called core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food and energy, increased by 0.6% from July to August.

Elsewhere of note are data on pandemic-related issues. The government reported about 5.2% of the workforce telecommuted to work, down from 6.5% the prior month and lower than the 35.4% who did so in May 2020, the first month those data were collected.

In September, there were 1.4 million people who said they couldn't find work because their offices closed or lost business due to the pandemic. That's down from 1.9 million in August and 49.8 million in May 2020.

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Even with the silver lining, U.S. policymakers warned there may be tough times ahead. The U.S. Federal Reserve has been raising its interest rates in an effort to cool demand, but it may be pumping the brakes so hard that job losses are inevitable.

A report published Monday by the United Nations was critical of the Federal Reserve's repeated interest rate hikes.

"The world is headed towards a global recession and prolonged stagnation unless we quickly change the current policy course of monetary and fiscal tightening in advanced economies," the report said.

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