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The Employment Situation in September

10/7/2012, 6:50 p.m.

While there is more work that remains to be done, today's employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.

Most pressing, Congress should pass an extension of middle class tax cuts that President Obama proposed, and the Senate passed. This extension would prevent the typical middle class family from facing a $2,200 tax increase at the beginning of next year. In addition, the President has proposed a plan that will enable responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgage and take advantage of today's historically low interest rates. To create more jobs in particularly hard-hit sectors, President Obama continues to urge Congress to pass elements of the American Jobs Act, including further investment in infrastructure to rebuild our Nation's ports, roads and highways, and assistance to State and local governments to prevent layoffs and to enable them to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers and first responders.

Today's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector establishments added 104,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 114,000. Revisions to the previous two months added another 86,000 jobs. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 31 straight months. Taking account of the preliminary benchmark revision (+453,000) released last week, the economy has added a total of 5.2 million private sector jobs during that period.

The household survey showed that the unemployment rate fell from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest rate since January 2009. Labor force participation rose by 418,000 people in September, and the labor force participation rate rose by 0.1 percentage point. Over the last 12 months, the unemployment rate has decreased by 1.2 percentage points, the largest drop since February 1995.

Employment rose notably in health care and social assistance (+44,500), transportation and warehousing (+17,100), restaurants and bars (+15,700) financial activities (+13,000), and professional and business services (+13,000). Manufacturing lost 16,000 jobs, primarily in durable goods (-13,000).

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.