Oct. 22--Moderate economic growth continued last month, with the jobless rate declining another tick to 7.2 percent and employers adding another 148,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Tuesday morning.
The unemployment rate was the lowest since November 2008, the month that President Obama was first elected.
The modest but steady growth seen in September occurred before the federal shutdown and debt crisis, which lasted more than two weeks starting Oct. 1 and cut deeply into consumer and business confidence, likely causing a pronounced reduction in the growth, economists say.
Before the latest fiscal crisis, job growth was averaging 185,000 a month. While the pace slowed some last month, businesses added 9,000 more jobs in July and August, according to revisions from the department, whose report for September was two weeks late because of the shutdown.
"The shutdown has caused an additional headache" for an economy whose slow-growing pace was already disappointing to many Americans, said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
"The slowing average job growth worries me," said Justin Wolfers, economics professor at the University of Michigan. "These aren't the sort of employment numbers that would make me feel confident that it's OK to shut down the government and raise default fears."
For the most part, September was an uneventful month in the job market, with average workweek unchanged at 34.5 hours and no changes in the share of eligible adults working or the number of long-term unemployed.
Construction employment rebounded by 20,000 after being static for six months. Other areas of strength were wholesaling, transportation and warehousing, and government employment posted its second monthly gain in a sign that the long recession there may be receding.
In another bright spot, average hourly earnings continued to post gains, rising 3 cents to $24.09 and bringing the yearly increase to more than 2 percent for a second month. Wage gains had been anemic, growing at less than 2 percent, for most of the four-year economic recovery.
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Original headline: U.S. employers add 148,000 jobs; rate falls to 7.2 percent
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