Unemployment rate declines to 7.8 percent

Posted: October 06, 2012

With just a month before the presidential election, the U.S. employment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, dipping below 8 percent for the first time since January 2009.

The Labor Department said Friday that 114,000 new jobs were added in September. Wages also rose.

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor will provide fresh fodder for the presidential-campaign debate about the economy. Jobs and the economy were the contentious central issues in the first presidential debate Wednesday.

The unemployment rate fell from 8.1 percent in August, and 8.3 percent in July. The 114,000 jobs continued the sluggish, but steady, upward trend of growth. Jobs have been added for 24 consecutive months.

The 7.8 percent unemployment rate, down from 9.1 percent a year ago, could include some Americans giving up looking for work. It certainly includes others who found parttime jobs.

In September, the number of people who said they found work rose 873,000, after three months of little change. That brought the number of unemployed down to 12.1 million.

The most positive job growth was in the health-care industry, which added 44,000 jobs. Transportation and warehousing showed a gain of 17,000 jobs, according to the report.

Many jobs added in September were parttime. The number of people with parttime jobs who wanted fulltime work rose from 8 million in August to 8.6 million in September.

Manufacturing jobs fell by 16,000 in September, and there were 6,000 fewer jobs in computer and electronic products.

The U.S. economy, slowed by government cuts, weak manufacturing, a European economic crisis and lukewarm consumer spending, has been growing at a meager annual pace well below 2 percent. That is too tepid to generate strong job growth and significantly reduce unemployment, economists say.

Contact staff writer Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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