And, it wasn’t a pleasant surprise.
The weak jobs report also cast doubt on the Federal Reserve plan to raise zero-level interest rates this year, with the data suggesting the economy may be too weak to weather a tightening of credit.
As US dollar gains more than 20 pct in the past 18 months, exports become more expensive for foreign buyers, in which support for economic growth is now lagging. Between January and September past year the economy gained 238,000 jobs a month on average.
The disappointing September number, and the downward revisions in July and August, bring the average monthly job gains over the past three months down to just 167,000 jobs. Analysts expected earnings to rise 0.2 percent, or about 5 cents.
The labor-force participation rate slid to 62.4% from 62.6%, as 350,000 people dropped out of the labor force.
“There’s nothing good in this morning’s report”, said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago.
Fed chairman Janet Yellen last week said the central bank would probably have to raise rates this year to stop the economy from overheating.
Employment in mining continued to decline in September cutting 10,000 positions.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected payrolls to rise by 200,000 and the jobless rate to hold at 5.1%. Pushing stocks down last quarter was the uncertainty surrounding the Fed’s rate-hike timetable, as well as the fallout from slowing economic growth in China and the resulting selloff in commodities and emerging markets.
The weakness in job creation during September complicates the landscape facing the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is considering raising its benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2006.
The number of unemployed people also was little changed at 7.9 million.
Part of the reason real wage growth remains stagnant is because the recovery has come with stronger employment growth in low-wage industries, such as accommodation and food services, temporary help services, retail trade and long-term health care.
Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets, described Friday’s non-farm payrolls report as “absolutely weak”. “After last month we could all point to jobs, and say at least they are holding in there”. It’s really, really hard to tell exactly what’s going on with the economy at this moment, and if nothing else, Friday’s report is evidence that we can’t assume the labor market will just keep barreling along.