Economy Watch: Job Growth Plods Along

Professional and business services added 67,000 jobs last month, good news for the office market. Retail posted more modest gains.
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user J. Burkhalter

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user J. Burkhalter

The U.S. economy created a total of 156,000 jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. That’s not a bad total, but not a particularly robust one either, and in line with job creation during most of 2016. So far this year, job growth has averaged 178,000 positions per month, compared with an average of 229,000 per month in 2015.

There were gains last month in professional and business services and in health care, two categories that influence the health of office markets and medical office space, respectively (and some smaller healthcare clinics take up space that used to be retail). Professional and business services employment rose by 67,000 jobs in September and has risen by 582,000 over the year.

Retail trade employment continues to grow as well, though not as briskly, adding 22,000 jobs during September. Within the retail industry, job gains occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores (up 14,000) and in gasoline stations (up 8,000). Over the year, employment in retail trade has risen by 317,000 jobs altogether.

The national unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent in September from 4.9 percent the month before, but the fact the headline rate hasn’t moved much in more than a year. In September 2015, the rate was 5.1 percent. BLS’s U-6 unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers and people who have part-time jobs but want full-time ones, was 9.7 percent in September. A year ago, it was 10 percent.