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US sheds 95,000 jobs in September


US sheds 95,000 jobs amid government downsizing

WASHINGTON (AFP) – – The US economy unexpectedly shed 95,000 non-farm jobs in September and unemployment remained stuck at 9.6 percent, government data showed Friday, highlighting the sluggish recovery ahead of key mid-term elections.

The Labor Department report surprised most analysts who had predicted zero job losses and an uptick in the jobless rate to 9.7 percent.

The nonfarm payrolls reading marked a sharp decline from a revised 57,000 job losses in August, 3,000 more than initially reported.

Government payrolls fell by a larger than expected 159,000, reflecting both a drop in the number of temporary jobs for the 2010 census and job losses in local government, the department data showed.

About 6,000 temporary census workers remain on the government payroll after the departure of 77,000 in September. Local governments shed 76,000 jobs.

Private-sector payroll employment rose by 64,000, below expectations of a gain of 74,000 jobs. The department upwardly revised the August reading to 93,000 from an initially reported 67,000.

Economists were closely watching the private sector for signals the economy can grow under its own steam as the federal government winds down massive stimulus measures to support the recovery.

With nearly one in 10 workers out of a job, persistent high unemployment is a major stumbling block in getting the consumer-led economy firmly on the path of sustainable growth.

“The total number was a job loss, but if we strip out government, for now we are looking at private-sector payroll growth, which is positive,” Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, told AFP.

“The report is not meaningfully different from expectations so it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on the broader discussion of the Federal Reserve and government spending.”

The Fed suggested last month it was ready to resume asset purchases to help support the faltering recovery if needed.

The September unemployment reading marked the 17th consecutive month the jobless rate has equaled or surpassed 9.4 percent, the longest stretch since the start of monthly figures in 1948.

The closely watched September report may offer clues on whether the struggling economy is sinking back toward recession or moving toward a sustained recovery, factors which could influence November 2 mid-term elections.

The report is the last monthly labor market snapshot ahead of the polls.

US President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party needed a strong report to crow about the recovery ahead of the vote, in which opposition Republicans are expected to make strong gains and possibly recapture a majority in one or both chambers of Congress.

The recovery from recession in the world’s largest economy has not been strong enough to generate normal labor force growth.

More than eight million jobs have been lost since the start of the recession in December 2007. The economy emerged from recession more than a year ago, but the recovery has been slow and sluggish.

Gross domestic product expanded at a tepid 1.7-percent pace in the second quarter, a sharp decline from the first quarter, when real output increased 3.7 percent.

Economists estimate that at least 100,000 jobs need to be created each month to put the labor market on firm footing.


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