Markets & Finance

Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.6%

September nonfarm payrolls dropped 43,000, which was well below expectations. Nonetheless, most other parts of the report were well above expectations, which on net, suggested a much stronger tone to the report than the September payroll change would imply.

Note that August payrolls were revised significantly higher, to a 107,000 gain from the previously reported 39,000 increase. The unemployment dropped to 5.6% from 5.7%, thanks to a 711,000 surge in the household employment measure.

And the workweek jumped to 34.3 hours from 34.1 hours, which is a huge move for this series. Note that each 0.1 rise in the workweek adds as many production hours to the economy as a 300,000 payroll gain, so the big workweek gain dwarfs the payroll gyration.

As for the industry breakdown, goods-producing industries lost 38,000 jobs, with the bulk of that coming again in the manufacturing sector, which lost another 35,000. Private service industries lost 9,000 jobs, led by a 26,000 drop in transportation and a 16,000 drop in retail. And government payrolls rose 4,000 following the outsized jump seen in August.

Overall, the data help to confirm that the economy is still on the path of recovery despite current market fears concerning a "double-dip" recession. It also reduces the odds of a rate cut later in the year. From MMS International

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