The skinny on the U.S. economy in September? For once, a pleasantly surprising report -- as 103,000 new jobs were created -- well above the Bloomberg consensus estimate of a 65,000 job gain.
Equally significant -- revisions to job totals in August and July added another 99,000 jobs: August's total was revised up to 57,000 jobs created from 0, and July was revised up to 127,000 from 85,000, the US. Labor Department announced Friday. The Labor Deparment revises its monthly job estimate as more data becomes available in subsequent months.
Most Job Metrics Positive in September
Further, most other job metrics also were encouraging in September: the private sector added 137,000 jobs. The U.S. unemployment was unchanged at 9.1 percent, as expected.
In addition, average hourly earnings increased 0.2 percent to $23.12 in September, reversing a decline in August. What's more, earnings are up 1.9 percent in the past 12 months. Also, the average workweek rose by six minutes to 34.3 hours.
However, an alternate measure of unemployment, which includes those working part-time who want full-time work but can't find it, rose to 16.5 percent from 16.2 percent.
A Verizon Bump
One qualifier in the September report: the return of striking Verizon workers at the end of their strike added about 45,000 jobs.
By sector, in September, health care added 44,000 positions, information services added 34,000, and construction added 26,000 jobs. On the downside, the government downsizing continued, as the public sector lost 34,000 jobs, including 5,000 U.S. Postal Service jobs. Also, the manufacturing sector lost 13,000 jobs, and electronics/appliances lost 3,000.
Job Market/Economic Analysis: Place the September jobs report in the win category for the stock market's bulls -- or those who calculate that better quarters are ahead for the U.S. economy and, by extension for U.S. stock markets.
When combined with the July/August upward job report revisions that added 99,000 jobs, it means that the U.S. economy created 202,000 jobs in the past three months -- still not the 150,000 to 200,000 new jobs per month that the nation needs to substantially lower the high 9.1 unemployment rate -- but the total nevertheless provides the best evidence yet that the economy is not falling into a recession -- the dreaded double-dip recession.
In other words, there is still some demand in the U.S. economy -- despite a local/state/federal government sector that's still cutting jobs and the uncertainty of the European sovereign debt crisis that's prompted some corporations to take a wait-and-see stance, rather than start hiring in pronounced way.
The bottom line regarding the September jobs report? Keep in mind it's only one month of decent data, the data could be revised downward, and one positive month does not make a trend. That said, Winston Churchill's famous quote on a problem applies here. Paraphrasing, It's not the end of the hiring drought, it's not even the beginning of the end of the hiring drought; but perhaps, it's the end of the beginning.
Joseph Lazzaro, U.S. Editor, served as Managing Editor of New York-based financial news web sites WallStreetEurope.com/WallStreetItalia.com, 1999-2004, and as Economics...