There was mixed jobs news from the US on Friday. The number of people in work grew more than expected in September and job gains for the prior months were revised higher but the unemployment rate stayed stubbornly high.
The figures were also somewhat distorted by the fact that in September 45,000 workers for Verizon Communications ended a strike which meant they were no longer counted as unemployed.
Despite the gains – with 103,000 jobs added in September – the unemployment rate was the same as for August and July at 9.1 percent of the workforce. Unemployment has been above eight percent since February 2009
The weak US labour market poses a critical challenge for President Barack Obama, who is gearing up for a tough re-election battle in just over a year’s time.
On Thursday he again pressed for measures to spur jobs growth, though they will have trouble getting voted through the US Congress.
The White House said the jobless rate was still too high and said faster economic growth was needed to heal the labour market.
Employers are still not adding enough jobs to keep up with population growth.
“We’re still not at any kind of job level that could bring the unemployment level down, that still remains a big concern for the economy,” said Ellen Zentner, senior US economist at Nomura Securities in New York.
“But nevertheless the stronger-than-expected rise in non-farm payrolls today helps provide a little bit of relief to the markets that the US economy is still hanging onto recovery.”
Recent reports on manufacturing, business spending and car sales suggest the economy fared better in the third quarter after growing at an anaemic 1.3 percent annual pace in the April-June period.