U.S. employers added a much fewer-than-expected 661,000 new jobs last month, data from the Labor Department confirmed Friday, as hiring slowed sharply from August amid new layoffs and a broader economic slowdown linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 661,000 net new job total compares to an upwardly-revised August tally of 1.489 million but still takes the headline unemployment rate to 7.9%. Average hourly wages, the Bureau of Labor statistics said, rose 0.1% from August to $29.47, taking the year-on-year to to 4.7%. The labor force participation rate, a reading of long-term unemployment, fell to 61.4% from 61.7%, the BLS said, and the overall economy is down 10.7 million jobs from its February peak.
Market expectations were also boosted by a stronger-than-forecast reading of weekly jobs claims on Thursday, which showed that 837,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, down from 873,000 in the prior period and just shy of the Street's 850,000 forecast.
Government workers were down 216,000 compared to August, the BLS said, and could partly explain the difference between this non-farm payroll report and ADP's private sector reading earlier this week, which showed new payroll additions rising by 749,000. The BLS report said private sector employment rose to 877,000.