Private Employers Add Jobs in September But Do Little to Alleviate Concerns About Economy; Heavy Losses in Public Education

The U.S. Labor Department published its September employment report Friday, and although it showed that the private sector added 137,000 jobs in the month, concerns about the economy remain. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.1 percent and as the New York Times comments,"While the number of new jobs exceeded consensus forecasts, it was barely enough to accommodate population growth, much less help those who have been out of work for an extended period." The number of jobs added was also inflated due to the return of 45,000 Verizon employees who had been striking in August. The ranks of the unemployed are still large, and they include many people who have faced long-term unemployment: "there are still 14 million people searching for work, a little less than half of them for six months or longer," the Times writes. And with the housing market "still teetering" and the public sector hurting, there is plenty to worry about in the report. Local government cut 35,000 jobs in September, 24,400 of which were in public education. The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, told the Times that 277,000 education jobs had been cut since 2008--and that she expects another 280,000 to go in the next year.

There were, however, other positive signs in the report. For one, according to the Times, "the government...revised its estimates upward for the previous two months, suggesting that job growth in July and August had been better than originally reported." It "reported net gains of 127,000 and 57,000 jobs in July and August, respectively, an increase from the originally released numbers."

Further, auto sales increased nearly ten percent, reaching their highest level in five months; and sales at chain stores, led by luxury goods, also saw an increase in September. Also encouraging, the economy began to chip away at the consumer confidence lows that had been reported in recent months. The health care industry added 44,000 employees; employment and business services 48,000; and the information industry added 34,000 jobs in the month.

As President Obama continues his efforts to get Congress to pass his proposed jobs bill, both parties will likely try and use new data to convince the public that their economic approach is the right one. Senator Eric Cantor has already seized on the newest opportunity, responding to Friday's release by saying: "Unfortunately, the policies being promoted by this administration are serving as a roadblock to growth. Constant threats of tax increases and excessive regulations send the wrong signal to our entrepreneurs, investors and small business people."

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