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The Numbers: September Produces Improvements in Job Growth, Unemployment Claims

CHICAGO — Both U.S. job growth and unemployment claims experienced slight improvements in September.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis reported on the September job growth, saying, “Non-farm payroll employment added 137,000 private-sector jobs, exceeding expectations, and total non-farm payroll jobs grew by 103,000. Additionally, the reported July and August jobs numbers were revised significantly upward, meaning that we added 99,000 more jobs during those two months than previously was reported. The unemployment rate remained at 9.1%.”

Solis added that 2.6 million jobs have been created over 19 consecutive months of private-sector growth.

Her department also reported that for the week ending Sept. 24, initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased by 37,000, to a seasonally adjusted total of 391,000. The number is the lowest since the beginning of April. The four-week average dropped as well, the first time in six weeks, to 417,000.

A new bill, the Marketplace Equity Act, has the support of the International Council of Shopping Centers. The bill would close the sales tax loophole concerning online retail businesses. Web retailers collect sales taxes only in the states where the business has a physical outlet, and the bill would allow states to collect sales taxes on any online purchase. The bill exempts small businesses.

The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts mortgage originations will fall in 2012, driven by a decline in refinance requests and only a slight increase in home purchases. The association does expect a faster growth rate in 2013. Jay Brinkmann, MBA's chief economist and senior vice president for research and education, says, “We do not anticipate any actions out of Washington that would have a material impact on the economic outlook.”

Over in the non-manufacturing sector, the latest report shows slight economic growth for September, with the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index up 1.5 percentage points, to 57.1% (the 26th month of growth), and the New Orders Index increased by 3.7 points to 56.5%. Anthony Nieves, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, also reported that nine industries reported growth in September.

According to the Surveys of Consumers conducted by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan, consumer confidence was up in September, though the numbers are below the 2010 report. Consumers appear to be expecting the economy to remain the same, rather than anticipating a further declining economy. The Sentiment Index rose in September to 59.4, up from the August number of 55.7.


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