Unemployment Rate Remains Steady

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Even though Hurricane Floyd bore down on America's East Coast, the Labor Department Friday said the unemployment rate for September remained steady at 4.2 percent, the lowest rate in nearly three decades.

The Labor Department said the overall American economy lost 8,000 jobs outside the farm sector in September. Payrolls, however, grew by 103,000 in August. The Labor Department estimated that payrolls would have grown by 50,000 in September if it hadn't been for hurricane Floyd.

Despite those weak payroll numbers, the Labor Department said Friday, the United States unemployment rate remained at 4.2 percent, matching August's unemployment rate. The nation's unemployment rate has been below 4.4 percent since March.

Katherine Abraham, commissioner of the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics explained the employment report this way, "Employment in some areas and industries was held down by Hurricane Floyd, but employment growth was weak even in those areas and industries largely unaffected by the hurricane."

The decline in September payrolls was the first drop since January 1996, when a blizzard paralyzed much of America's East Coast. Last month, even amid job losses, workers earnings rose. Average hourly earnings shot up seven-cents to $13.37, the biggest one-month gain since an eight-cent rise in September 1983.

Labor Secretary Alexis Herman said she was pleased with the employment report particularly the report among college students. "The unemployment rate for college students is an amazing 1.6 percent. That compares to 6.9 percent for high school dropouts, demonstrating once again that we are in a knowledge based economy," Herman said. "That also tells us that we need to continue our efforts to reach out to those who are not yet benefiting from this economy, dislocated workers, at-risk youth, workers with disabilities. Then we can celebrate their unemployment rates, too."