Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

We use cookies on our website to give you the best online experience. Please know that if you continue to browse on our site, you agree to this use. You can always block or disable cookies using your browser settings. To find out more, please review our privacy policy.


Policy Hub: Macroblog provides concise commentary and analysis on economic topics including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, inflation, labor economics, and financial issues for a broad audience.

Authors for Policy Hub: Macroblog are Dave Altig, John Robertson, and other Atlanta Fed economists and researchers.

Comment Standards:
Comments are moderated and will not appear until the moderator has approved them.

Please submit appropriate comments. Inappropriate comments include content that is abusive, harassing, or threatening; obscene, vulgar, or profane; an attack of a personal nature; or overtly political.

In addition, no off-topic remarks or spam is permitted.

October 7, 2005


That seems to be what everyone expected from today's release of the September employment report. Calculated Risk points out that collecting this month's data required a few creative adjustments to the usual process, but there was no shortage of commentary ready to declare the report as pretty good news. From MarketWatch:

Hurricane Katrina blew away a quarter of a million jobs, but outside of the battered Gulf Coast, job growth remained healthy in September, government data released Friday show...

U.S. nonfarm payrolls fell by an estimated 35,000 in September, the first decline in more than two years, the Labor Department said Friday.

The unemployment rate rose as expected to 5.1% in September from 4.9%, as 270,000 Americans joined the ranks of the jobless.

The decline in payrolls was much less than the 150,000 drop expected by Wall Street economists surveyed by MarketWatch...

The Commentary in the blogoshpere has thus far been more skeptical.  Barry Ritholtz says we should just consider this report a mulligan, Calculated Risk asserts that it will probably be months before we get the true picture, and pgl at Angry Bear just hopes there is nothing ugly hidden among the data uncertainty.  All of that seems hard to argue with.  Nonetheless, one of the things that got my attention was this (again from the MarketWatch article):

In addition to the better-than-expected September results, payrolls in July and August were revised higher by a total of 77,000 jobs. Job growth has averaged 194,000 per month over the past year.

To me, that is starting to look like pretty healthy net job creation.  And I don't quite agree with this statement from Calculated Risk:

The jobs report can be summarized: Construction hot, manufacturing not, Katrina impact unclear. As is usual, construction added jobs while the downward trend in manufacturing continued. In fact, manufacturing jobs (14.234 million) are at the lowest level since 1950.

Not that the statement is wrong.  It's just incomplete.  While it is true that manufacturing job growth is virtually nonexistent, that is nothing new.  And while job gains were had in construction -- as has been the case for awhile -- outside of retail sales advances in employment were broad-based.  Here is the detailed story in pictures:

Manufacturing lost 27,000 jobs...

... and retail a whopping-looking 88,000 jobs:

That looks to me like the real news of this report, as growth in most other industry categories held pretty close to recent form.  Construction gained 23,000 jobs...


... but in addition we added 11.000 in the financial activities sector...

...  52,000 in the business and professional services area...

... 49,000 in education and health services...

... while the government kicked in another 31,000:


Overall, that is not a bad set of pictures.

UPDATE: More, from the Skeptical Speculator.