The strongest sector for job growth in September was leisure and hospitality, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 96,000 net jobs gain last month was more than the combined total for August and July.
Bars and restaurants were the strongest group within leisure and hospitality, adding 61,000 jobs.
Government hiring also picked up in September with a net gain of 73,000 jobs. That is up sharply from the 6,000 jobs added in the same month a year ago.
State government education accounted for 29,000 of those jobs this year.
The job market has continued to defy expectations of a significant slowdown, and in fact, the numbers for August and July were revised upward. That could be a sign that more workers are joining the labor market, either through immigration or by coming off the sideline, said Jason Furman, Harvard professor and former National Economic Council director.
“We’re creating jobs at a clip of nearly 300,000 a month over the last three months. That is way above what you need for the normal replacement rate, but we have seen a higher participation rate. So maybe what we’re seeing here is a labor supply, not labor demand,” Furman said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“Some evidence for that is average hourly earnings. It isn’t just the low number this month. Over the last three months, they’ve risen at a 3.4% annual rate. If that continues, that is fully consistent with inflation in the mid-to-low 2s,” Furman added.
One variable in the monthly jobs report is the labor disputes that are roiling several industries.
The health-care subsector added 41,000 jobs, down from its 12-month average. The data for the BLS survey was collected in mid-September, so this number does not reflect the Kaiser Permanente strikes.
On the other hand, the information sector’s job losses were due largely to shrinking employment in motion picture and sound recordings. The BLS said this was largely due to labor disputes, as productions are mostly halted with the Screen Actors Guild still on strike.