WASHINGTON – A private survey shows that U.S. businesses added fewer workers in September than August, a sign that slow growth may be holding back hiring.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies added 162,000 jobs last month. That’s below August’s total of 189,000, which was revised lower.
The September increase marks the latest in a string of modest hiring gains reported by the survey in recent months. Still, the gain isn’t enough to significantly push down the unemployment rate, which has been above 8 percent for three-and-a-half years.
About 100,000 new jobs are needed each month just to keep up with the growth of the working-age population. Twice as many are typically needed on a consistent basis to bring unemployment down rapidly.
“While the economy isn’t plunging into recession, it still isn’t creating enough jobs to drive the unemployment rate lower either,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
The report only covers hiring in the private sector and excludes government employment. The Labor Department will offer a more complete picture of September hiring on Friday. The ADP and government surveys frequently diverge.
New Mexico’s most recent data showed the state posted its third month of negative job growth in August. The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing August 2012 with August 2011, was negative 1.5 percent, representing a loss of 12,400 jobs, according to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
Government payrolls shrank by 5,800 jobs from their year-earlier total, with losses ongoing at all three levels: state, down 3,700; federal, down 1,700; and local, down 400. Professional and business services, down 5,700, posted a similar dip, while construction was down about 3,000.
Economists forecast that the Labor Department report will show employers added 111,000 jobs in September, slightly more than August. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 8.2 percent.
Most economists expect growth to stay at about 2 percent for the rest of this year.
Journal staff contributed to this report.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal