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U.S. Posts First Job Gains in 8 Months

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xxrayeyes Member Level  Friday, 10/03/03 09:20:18 AM
Re: sarals post# 300
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U.S. Posts First Job Gains in 8 Months

Friday October 3, 8:50 AM EDT

By Glenn Somerville

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. employers added new jobs in September for the first time in eight months, the Labor Department said on Friday in a surprise twist for financial markets, which had been braced for more losses.

The number of workers on U.S. payrolls outside the farm sector grew by 57,000 last month, the first time since January that jobs were created and sharply contrary to Wall Street economists' forecasts for a 30,000-job loss. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.1 percent in September.

On another hotly awaited statistic, Labor said a preliminary measure indicated it will revise down its estimate of payroll employment by about 145,000, or 0.1 percent, for the March 2003 reference year when it issues benchmark revisions next February. That is smaller than the average 0.3 percent revisions it has made over the past 10 years.

The pickup in September employment, coming in the face of recent data that painted a mixed picture of economic activity, was certain to be welcomed by Bush administration officials anxious for some signs of turnaround ahead of presidential elections next year. Democrats have been zeroing in on the drain in jobs and sharp escalation in budget deficits since President Bush took office in 2001.

Millions of jobs have been shaved from payrolls in the past few years, but there were nonetheless a few promising signs in the September report.

While 29,000 more manufacturing jobs were lost -- the 38th straight month in which factory jobs were cut -- it was the smallest monthly decline since 25,000 in July 2002.

As well, the Labor Department revised its estimate for August job performance to show 41,000 jobs were lost instead of 93,000.

The average workweek in September was unchanged at 33.7 hours, but in the manufacturing sector alone the workweek increased to 40.4 hours from 40.2. In another indication that factories might be growing busier, overtime hours were expanded to an average 4.2 a week from 4 in August.

©2003 Reuters Limited.

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