San José, CA - On Oct. 2, the Department of Labor reported that the U.S. economy created only 142,000 net new jobs in September. This was in much less than the 200,000-plus jobs that mainstream economists expected. Even worse, the Labor Department reported that their revised estimates for July and August turned out to be 59,000 fewer new jobs than originally reported.
While the official unemployment rate stayed the same from August to September, at 5.1%, this was only because more than 300,000 people who were not working gave up looking for work. This brought the Labor Force Participation Rate down to 62.4%, a level last seen in 1977, when women were beginning to enter the labor force in large numbers.
Other signs of weakness in the labor market were small drops in the average number of hours worked and the average hourly earnings. Taken all together, these changes signaled more weakness in the U.S. economy, which is being slowed down by economic problems in other countries and the big fall in oil prices. Mining (which includes the oil sector) and manufacturing (which ships goods to other countries) both saw a decline in jobs in September.