The U.S. economy created jobs at a much slower than expected pace in September, a pessimistic sign at a time of concerns over the path of the pandemic, stubbornly high inflation and dysfunction in Washington.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by just 194,000 in the month, compared to the Dow Jones estimate of 500,000, the Labor Department reported Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 4.8%, against the expectation for 5.1%.
The headline number was hurt by a 123,000 decline in government payrolls, while private payrolls increased by 317,000.
The report comes at a critical time for the economy, with recent data showing a mixed bag of solid consumer spending despite rising prices, growth in the manufacturing and services sector and surging housing costs.
Federal Reserve officials are watching the jobs numbers closely. The central bank recently has indicated it’s ready to start pulling back on some of the extraordinary help it has provided during the pandemic crisis, primarily because inflation has met and exceeded the Fed’s 2% goal.
However, officials have said they see the jobs market still well short of full employment, a prerequisite for interest rate hikes. Market pricing currently indicates the first rate increase likely will come in November 2022.
This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.
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