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National Restaurant Association - Economist’s Notebook: September jobs report provides mixed signals for the economy

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Economist’s Notebook: September jobs report provides mixed signals for the economy

In his latest commentary, the National Restaurant Association's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy analyzes the September employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  In what is often viewed as the most important economic release before the election, the report produced mixed signals for the economy. While the national unemployment rate fell to a 44-month low of 7.8 percent, employers reported a net gain of only 114,000 jobs in September. 

The September jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offered mixed signs about the economic recovery, with job growth remaining tepid and the unemployment rate falling sharply.

Based on the establishment survey, employers added a net 114,000 jobs in September, down from upwardly-revised gains of 181,000 jobs in July and 142,000 jobs in August.  The private sector only added 104,000 jobs in September, which is well below the average monthly growth of 145,000 jobs registered thus far during 2012.

After a strong start to the year, private sector job growth remained below 120,000 in five of the last six months, which is barely treading water this far into an economic recovery.

In contrast, the household survey painted a much different picture. The national unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent in September, down from 8.1 percent in August and the lowest level in 44 months. The dive in the jobless rate was largely due to a sharp 873,000 increase in the number of employed individuals, the largest monthly gain in nearly 10 years. There was also a 456,000 drop in the number of unemployed individuals in September, and a 582,000 increase in the number of people that are employed part-time for economic reasons.

While the household survey is often the first to measure growth in a recovery because many new jobs are not at firms that are part of the establishment survey, it remains to be seen if the September numbers are part of a larger trend or just a temporary seasonal blip.

Monthly U.S. Job Growth
 US TNA Chart Oct 2012.gif
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Establishment Survey; figures are seasonally-adjusted

For additional analysis of restaurant industry trends, log on to Restaurant TrendMapper (subscription required).

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