US employers have added over 150,000 jobs over the past four weeks. Analysts viewed the latest jobs statistics as a sign that the world's largest economy was in good health. What will the Fed make of it?
Employers in the US added 156,000 jobs in September, a decent gain reflecting a healthy economy. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent from 4.9 percent, but mostly for a positive reason.
More Americans came off the sidelines and looked for work, though not all found employment. Job growth has averaged 178,000 a month so far this year, down from last year's pace of 229,000.
Analysts said the latest hiring figures could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise the short-term interest rate it controls in December.
After seven years of pinning that rate at a record low near zero in a bid to fuel borrowing and spending, the Fed raised its rate slightly last December, but has not acted since. Central bank governors will meet again in November just before the presidential election, with analysts expecting the Fed to hold off until the campaign ends.
Governors have received mixed signals in recent weeks. Consumer spending in the US hit its lowest level in five months in August, and factories kept struggling as businesses put off investments in new machinery, computers and other equipment. However, orders for factory goods have jumped recently, suggesting that output may rise further.
The US economy expanded at just a tepid 1.1-percent annualized pace in the first six months of the year. Still, economists have forecast that growth accelerated to a 2.5-percent to 3-percent annualized pace in the July-September quarter.
hg/jd (Reuters, AFP)