Solid hir­ing, bet­ter pay draw more Amer­i­cans into job hunt

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) » Drawn by steady hir­ing and slightly higher pay, more Amer­i­cans be­gan look­ing for work in Septem­ber, a sign of re­newed op­ti­mism about the U.S. job mar­ket.

The in­flux of job seek­ers sent the un­em­ploy­ment rate up slightly as more Amer­i­cans were counted as un­em­ployed. Taken as a whole, Fri­day’s jobs re­port from the govern­ment painted a pic­ture of a re­silient econ­omy that could keep the Fed­eral Re­serve on track to raise in­ter­est rates in De­cem­ber.

Em­ploy­ers added 156,000 jobs, fewer than the 167,000 in Au­gust and well below last year’s av­er­age monthly gain of 230,000. Still, Septem­ber’s hir­ing pace, if sus­tained, would likely be more than enough to ab­sorb new job seek­ers.

At the same time, the un­em­ploy­ment rate inched up to 5 per­cent from 4.9 per­cent as more than 400,000 peo­ple be­gan look­ing for jobs and some didn’t im­me­di­ately find them. The rate has barely budged in the past year even though em­ploy­ers have added 2.4 mil­lion jobs. That’s be­cause many Amer­i­cans have be­gun seek­ing work after hav­ing re­mained on the side­lines for much of the eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

“The word has spread that there are jobs to be had, and more and more peo­ple are flock­ing to the job mar­ket,” said Sung Won Sohn, an econ­o­mist at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­sity’s Smith School of Busi­ness, said.

The econ­omy’s dura­bil­ity, de­spite its slug­gish growth, con­trasts sharply with the tu­mul­tuous ups and downs of the pres­i­den­tial race, which is near­ing its end. The two ma­jor pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees have sketched sharply con­flict­ing views of the econ­omy’s health and the best ways to ac­cel­er­ate its growth.

Don­ald Trump fo­cuses on the loss of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, for which he blames badly ne­go­ti­ated trade agree­ments. The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee also points to what he calls ex­cess reg­u­la­tion for sti­fling busi­nesses and de­press­ing hir­ing. He pledges to rene­go­ti­ate or with­draw from the trade pacts and re­duce reg­u­la­tion.

Hil­lary Clin­ton notes that 15 mil­lion jobs have been cre­ated since the econ­omy bot­tomed in 2010. Still, she sup­ports ad­di­tional in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing to try to ac­cel­er­ate growth and hir­ing. And she wants to make col­lege more af­ford­able and com­mu­nity col­lege free.

Fri­day’s jobs re­port isn’t likely to af­fect the course of the elec­tion. But it re­flected im­prove­ment in two key ar­eas: job-hunt­ing and pay. For much of the re­cov­ery, the pro­por­tion of Amer­i­cans who ei­ther had a job or were look­ing for one had de­clined as an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion in­creased the pace of re­tire­ments. Many un­em­ployed peo­ple also grew dis­cour­aged and stopped look­ing. Oth­ers stayed in school or stayed at home car­ing for rel­a­tives.

All that helped keep the un­em­ploy­ment rate down. Peo­ple who are out of work aren’t counted as un­em­ployed un­less they’re ac­tively search­ing for a job.

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