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Nonfarm payrolls add 103,000 jobs in September

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Nonfarm payrolls rose in September, coming in higher than most analysts' estimates, but the nation's unemployment rate remained at 9.1%. The Labor Department said the economy added 103,000 jobs last month, including the return of 45,000 Verizon Communications Inc. workers who went on strike in August. The consensus figure from an Econoday survey forecast 65,000 new jobs for September with a range of estimates between 30,000 and 115,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics revised gains in nonfarm payrolls for August from nil to a gain of 57,000. It revised July to 127,000 from 85,000. In the first quarter, the economy was adding about 220,000 jobs monthly, but nonfarm payroll growth averaged just 72,000 jobs since April. "There is no hint in September's employment report that another recession is starting," according to analysts at Toronto-based Capital Economics. "Nevertheless, the 103,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls last month is still consistent with what would normally be considered very weak economic growth. Overall, the U.S. economy is just about hanging in there, but growth is very weak and susceptible to any adverse shock coming from the euro-zone." While government employment continues to fall, the professional and business services, health care and construction sectors experienced gains in September. The Labor Department said 34,000 government jobs were lost last month, including 4,000 cuts by the U.S. Postal Service. Local government employment fell by another 35,000 jobs, bring cuts to 535,000 since September 2008. The number of unemployed Americans remained essentially flat at 14 million, with the long-term unemployed, or those without jobs for 27 weeks or more, at 6.2 million. After climbing to 9.8% in November, the unemployment rate has held steady between 9% and 9.2% since April. Analysts at Capital Economics said "there were plenty of other mildly encouraging signs" in the government's report. "We had been worried about the stagnation in temporary employment over the past few months," they said. "But temporary employment increased by 19,000 in September and the gains in the preceding two months were revised up strongly." On Wednesday, Automatic Data Processing Inc. said the private sector added 91,000 jobs in September. The payroll giant conducts the monthly survey, which excludes federal jobs, in conjunction with Macroeconomic Advisers. TrimTabs Investment Research estimates the economy added 64,000 jobs in September. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw.

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