September's jobs report, delayed more than two weeks because of the government shutdown, was hardly worth the wait. Employers added just 148,000 non-farm jobs as the unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News expected 180,000 job additions last month and unemployment to be unchanged at 7.3 percent.
"The employment report released this morning showed that the economic recovery continued its moderate pace during September," said Robert Murphy, associate professor of economics, Boston College. "Of course, the latest report is based on data from before the government shutdown and debt-crisis brinkmanship, and so to gauge any possible fallout from those events we must await the October numbers."
Employment in the wholesale trade, transportation, warehousing and construction industry rose. Jobs in the construction industry increased by 20,000 in September, after showing "little change" over the prior six months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.2 percent, and the employment-population ratio at 58.6 percent, were unchanged last month.
The Labor Department's report for August showed only 169,000 jobs were added and unemployment fell to 7.3 percent, but Tuesday's report revised the number of jobs added to 193,000 for that month. Total non-farm payroll employment for July was revised lower to 89,000 from 104,000.
Lindsey Piegza, chief economist for Sterne Agee, said the September jobs numbers lacked a lot of meaning, in part, because of the late timing of the data.
"Ancillary reports suggest more of the same in September: a lackluster job market," she said.
She added that mediocre expectations were already factored into the report.
October's report, due out a week late on Nov. 8, will be closely watched to see if the "slump" of the last few months was short-lived and any if there were any effects of the two-week government shutdown.
"Of course, an outsized decline will almost certainly be blamed on the government shutdown, but the jobs market has been losing steam since the start of the year, well before the government shutdown was even being considered," Piegza said.
Today's jobs report reaffirms the Federal Reserve's position to hold monthly asset purchases steady at $85 billion a month, essentially taking "tapering" off the table for October and likely through December as well, Piegza said.
"The Fed is still waiting to see that noticeable improvement in hiring and it appears they are going to be waiting even longer," Piegza said.