A surge in hiring has pushed unemployment to a six-year low of 5.9 percent in September as the U.S. labor market showed renewed strength. Following a payroll increase of 180,000 jobs, September’s gain of 248,000 jobs was bigger than previously estimated, according to a Labor Department report. Revisions boosted the job count by 69,000 over the previous two months. The jobless rate fell from 6.1 percent to the lowest level since July 2008.
The pickup in hiring shows employers are gaining confidence that the expansion in the U.S. economy will be sustained, surviving global slowdowns in Europe and Asia that have hurt global markets. Stagnant wage growth kept the report from being universally upbeat, giving Federal Reserve policy makers reason to be patient in removing monetary stimulus. Another negative feature of the report was average hourly earnings, which were unchanged in September, the worst reading since April. Pay was up 2 percent over the past 12 months, down from 2.1 percent in August.
The median forecast of 100 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected payrolls would increase by 215,000. Estimates ranged from 155,000 to 265,000 after a previously reported 142,000 advance.
The drop in unemployment exceeded all forecasts. The rate, which is derived from a Labor Department survey of households, was projected to hold at 6.1 percent, according to the Bloomberg survey median. Estimates ranged from 6 percent to 6.2 percent.