Job growth numbers were much lower than expected for September at only 194,000 new positions according the latest Labor Department figures (just slightly above the 130-150,000 estimated increase needed on a monthly basis to stay-up with growing demographics). The belief was that more people would return to the market seeking jobs once federal payments were ended – but that didn’t materialize, at least not yet. The non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment remained steady at 4.5 percent in September, a level more akin to 2019 pre-pandemic numbers. [The new figure is down just 0.1 basis points vs. August ’21 level; while being down by 2.6 points from the pandemic/shutdown induced 7.1% figure of last September 2020]. Construction employment rose by 22,000 in September but has shown little net change thus far this year. Employment in construction is still 201,000 below its February 2020 level.
The overall unemployment figure continues to recede down (0.4) to 4.8 percent. (“Unemployed persons” also decreased to 7.7 million per the government count). However, “labor force participation” remained little changed at 61.6 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate “typically” works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL). The “employment to population ratio” experienced a slight upward movement of 0.2 to 58.7 percent. Average hourly earnings for employees again moved-up smartly to $26.14, confirming to some extent a possible stabilizing at a higher norm in the post pandemic era, potentially due to a shortage of willing workers at this time. SEE Workforce Statistics Chart