Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

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                          Statement of
                           Keith Hall
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics
                           before the
                    Joint Economic Committee
                     UNITED STATES CONGRESS
                     Friday, October 3, 2008

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

     Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the employment and
unemployment data we released this morning.
     Nonfarm payroll employment declined by 159,000 in September.
By comparison, from January through August, payroll employment
decreased by 75,000 a month on average.  In September, job losses
continued in manufacturing, construction, and retail trade.
Mining and health care employment continued to trend up.  The
unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.1 percent, following an
increase of 0.4 percentage point in August.

     Manufacturing job losses continued in September (-51,000),
with employment declines occurring throughout much of the sector.
In particular, motor vehicle and parts manufacturers shed 18,000
jobs; over the past 12 months, employment in this industry has
fallen by 140,000.  In September, manufacturing hours and
overtime declined by 0.2 hour and 0.1 hour, respectively.
     Construction employment was down by 35,000 over the month.
Since its peak in September 2006, employment in this industry has
fallen by 607,000.  Eighty-five percent of the job losses over
this 2-year period have occurred in residential building and
residential specialty trades.
     Mining employment continued to expand, with an increase of
8,000 in September.  Mining has added 241,000 jobs since April
2003, with most of the growth in oil and gas extraction and
support activities.
     In the service-providing sector, retail employment fell by
40,000 over the month, with the largest job losses occurring
among department stores and motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Over the past 4 months, auto and parts dealerships have shed an
average of 12,000 jobs per month, four times the average decline
in the first 5 months of the year (-3,000).
     Elsewhere in the service-providing sector, employment in
financial activities declined by 17,000 in September; securities
and investment firms accounted for 8,000 of the loss.  The
employment services industry, which includes temporary help
agencies, continued to contract in September and has lost 303,000
jobs thus far this year.
     Health care employment continued to trend up over the month.
However, the September increase of 17,000 was only about half the
average monthly gain for the prior 12 months (30,000).

     Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory
workers in the private sector edged up by 3 cents, or 0.2
percent, in September.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly
earnings have increased by 3.4 percent.  From August 2007 to
August 2008, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and
Clerical Workers (CPI-W) rose by 5.9 percent.

     Although Hurricane Ike struck the east coast of Texas and
portions of coastal Louisiana during the September reference
period for the establishment survey, we believe the storm did not
substantially impact the payroll employment estimates that we
released today.  For weather conditions to have affected payroll
employment, people would have had to be off work for the entire
pay period and not paid for the time missed.
     Turning to labor market measures from the survey of
households, the unemployment rate held at 6.1 percent in
September; it is 1.4 percentage points higher than a year
earlier.  Among the major worker groups, the jobless rate for
adult men rose by 0.5 percentage point over the month to 6.1
percent, and the rate for blacks increased to 11.4 percent.  The
unemployment rate for adult women declined to 4.9 percent in
September, partially offsetting a sharp increase in August.

     Approximately 9.5 million persons were unemployed in
September, little changed from August.  Two million of these
individuals had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more, an increase
of 167,000 over the month and 728,000 over the past 12 months.

     Both the labor force participation rate, at 66.0 percent,
and the employment-population ratio, at 62.0 percent, were little
changed over the month.  Labor force participation has shown
virtually no movement over the past 12 months, while the
employment-population ratio has declined by 0.9 percentage point.

     The number of persons working part time who would have
preferred full-time employment increased by 337,000 in September
to nearly 6.1 million.  Over the last 12 months, the number of
such workers has grown by 1.6 million.
     In keeping with standard practice, this month we are
providing a preliminary estimate of the next benchmark revision
to nonfarm payroll employment.  Each year the Bureau revises, or
benchmarks, the payroll survey's sample-based employment
estimates to reflect comprehensive employment counts derived
primarily from state unemployment insurance tax reports.

     Preliminary tabulations of employment from the state tax
reports indicate the March 2008 payroll employment will require a
small downward revision of 21,000.  The final benchmark will be
incorporated into the establishment survey data released on
February 6, 2009.

     In summary, nonfarm payroll employment declined by 159,000
in September, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.1

     My colleagues and I now would be glad to answer your

Last Modified Date: October 03, 2008