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Unemployment Rate Drops To 7.8 Percent; 114,000 Jobs Added To Payrolls

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
October 5, 2012

The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August even though just 114,000 jobs were added to private and public payrolls, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

We’ll have more from the report, as well as reactions to it, shortly. As we said Thursday, this news is sure to be a hot topic on the campaign trail.

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET. Two Surveys, Two Different Indicators:

The unemployment rate reported by BLS is based on surveys it does of households. Basically, researchers ask a series of questions to determine who is and isn’t working, what types of jobs they have, whether they’re actively looking for work, etc.

That survey produced an eye-popping number: 873,000 more people reported being “employed” in September than in August.

The figure on payroll employment — in this case, a gain of 114,000 jobs — is based on a survey of public and private employers.

How could 873,000 more people say they were working if only 114,000 jobs were added to payrolls? One reason: 582,000 more people said they took part-time work “for economic reasons” last month.

Our colleagues at Planet Money have previously reported about how BLS puts its numbers together and the steps it takes to keep them secret. Today, it adds a post on “5 Ways Of Looking At Unemployment.”

Update at 8:40 a.m. ET. How Did The Jobless Rate Fall If Job Growth Was Slow?

An increase of 114,000 jobs in an economy with a labor force of more than 155 million people wouldn’t alone account for a sharp drop in the jobless rate. So why did the rate decline three tenths of a point?

The Associated Press notes that: “The economy also created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than first estimated. … The revisions show employers added 146,000 jobs per month from July through September, up from 67,000 in the previous three months.”

The BLS report also says there were 456,000 fewer people counted as being among the unemployed last month.

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET. First Time Below 8 Percent Since January 2009:

At 7.8 percent, the jobless rate is back where it was in January 2009 and is below 8 percent for the first time since President Obama was sworn in that month. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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