By Josh Mitchell
U.S. job growth fell to the slowest pace of the year in September, as the Delta variant and a persistent shortage of workers restrained the ability of companies to hire.
The economy added 194,000 jobs in September, the smallest gain since December 2020 and down from the upwardly revised 366,000 jobs added in August, the Labor Department said Friday. The jobless rate fell to 4.8% from 5.2% a month earlier. The rate fell largely because many workers exited the labor force.
The figures add to evidence that fears about the virus and global supply constraints continue to hold back the economic recovery. The biggest factor behind last month's weak payroll gain was a decline in public-sector jobs, mainly at schools. Employment in private-sector industries rose by 317,000 in September, with modest gains across several industries.
The spread this summer of the Delta variant, a particularly contagious strain of Covid-19, likely spooked would-be job seekers and impeded speedier job growth in September, despite many companies being desperate to hire, economists and business leaders say.
The jobless rate remains higher than the pre-pandemic level of 3.5%. But other measures--chiefly, wage growth--suggest the labor market is tight. The average hourly pay of private-sector workers climbed 4.6% in September compared with a year earlier, Labor Department data show, as employers raised wages to compete over a shrunken pool of workers.
The labor-force participation rate--or the share of workers with a job or actively looking for one--was little changed at 61.6% in September, down from 63.3% in February 2020 ahead of the pandemic.
Write to Josh Mitchell at joshua.mitchell.com
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October 08, 2021 09:07 ET (13:07 GMT)Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.