The unemployment rate in the United States remained unchanged at 9.6 per cent during the month of September, according to the latest monthly jobs report by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics.

In news that must offer little consolation to U.S. President Barack Obama the BLS report revealed that non-farm payroll employment edged down by 95,000 jobs last month and government offices were responsible for shedding 159,000 of those jobs.

The BLS noted that the net job loss reflected “both a drop in the number of temporary jobs for Census 2010 and job losses in local government.” The number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 14.8 million.

Offering a glimmer of hope, however, the BLS survey results also showed that private-sector payroll employment continued to trend up modestly, by 64,000 jobs.

Reacting to the news the Austan Goolsbee, the recently-appointed Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers said that given the volatility in the monthly employment and unemployment data, it was “important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

In fact, he noted, the latest employment report provided evidence that private sector job growth was driving an economic recovery. However he conceded, “But we must do more to put the economy on a path of robust economic growth... the rate of job growth is not as large as needed to bring the unemployment rate down quickly.”

An aspect of the report that might be of particular concern to policymakers was the fact that the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons rose by 612,000 over the month to 9.5 million. The BLS said that over the past two months, the number of such workers increased by 943,000 and these individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Keywords: U.S. economy