Government payrolls down, private-sector payrolls up

U.S. payrolls shrank again in September as government layoffs more than offset private-sector hiring.

According to the latest Labor Department estimates, nonfarm payrolls declined 95,000 as the U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.6 percent.

Initial estimates for job losses in July and August were revised upward to 66,000 and 57,000 respectively. After a surge in hiring in May to help conduct the 2010 census, nonfarm payrolls since have dropped a total of 393,000.

For September, government payrolls fell 159,000 with the layoff of another 77,000 temporary workers hired to conduct the 2010 census.

About 6,000 such workers remain on federal payrolls, down from a peak of 564,000 in May.  Local government employment fell 76,000 in September.

Meanwhile, private-sector payrolls rose 64,000 with gains in a number of industry sectors: 34,000 in food service and drinking places, 28,000 in employment services, 24,000 in health care and 6,000 in mining.

Employment in construction fell 21,000 in September, partly offsetting a gain in August. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, construction payrolls have dropped to a nearly 14-year low. Employment was mostly unchanged in the financial activities, manufacturing and trades sectors.

The average hourly workweek remained unchanged at 34.2 hours in September, while the average manufacturing workweek slipped a tenth of an hour to 40.1 hours. Average hourly earnings rose a cent to $22.67, while weekly earnings rose 34 cents to $775.31.