U.S. labor estimates: Job growth slowing

Payrolls continue to grow in the United States, but at what the latest government labor estimates suggest is a slowing pace.

According to the Labor Department, nonfarm payrolls increased only 142,000 in September. Moreover, initial estimates for job gains for the previous two months were revised downward a combined 59,000 to 136,000 for August and 223,000 for July

The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.1 percent, the lowest level since March 2008.

Given the latest numbers, monthly payroll gains so far in 2015 have averaged 198,000. That’s nearly 24 percent less than the average monthly gains of 260,000 in 2014.

For September, the number of people counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or longer was little changed at 2.1 million and accounted for almost 27 percent of the unemployed. The ranks of people counted among those working part-time because their hours had been cut or they’re unable to find full-time positions fell 447,000 to 6 million. The civilian labor force participation rate slipped two-tenths of a point to 62.4 percent.

For September, health care payrolls grew 34,000, while professional and business services added a net 31,000 jobs. Employment rose 24,000 in retail trades,  21,000 in food services and drinking places and 12,000 in the information sector.

Payrolls declined another 10,000 in the mining sector. Employment in that sector has dropped 102,000 since peaking in December 2014.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls slipped a tenth of an hour to 34.5 hours. The manufacturing work week fell two-tenths of an hour to 40.6 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls edged down a cent to $25.09. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2.2 percent.