The economy added 114,000 jobs in September, and 86,000 more than originally estimated in July and August, according to this morning’s jobs report. The unemployment rate dropped 0.3 points to 7.8 percent, the lowest level since Barack Obama took office in January 2009 and the 31st consecutive month of private sector growth.
Although public sector job growth remained weak, state governments expanded employment for the third straight month in September, adding 13,000 net jobs. Nearly all of that increase was in education, as schools hired nearly 14,000 teachers and educators, many who previously had been laid off after budget cutbacks.
Most importantly, the unemployment rate declined in September because more Americans found jobs, not because they gave up and stopped looking for work. That’s a significant reversal from August, when 358,000 people dropped out of the labor force. Although many of those people were seniors reaching retirement, a substantial percentage were likely discouraged workers. But in September, the employment to population ratio actually increased 0.4 points to 58.7 percent—the highest level in 28 months.