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Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 4.9 Percent in SeptemberBy DAVE SKIDMORE

October 3, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The economy created new jobs at a modest pace in September _ keeping the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.9 percent, very near the lowest it has been in 24 years.

Though growing with less momentum than earlier this year, the labor market still favored job-seekers, according to economists. And, they said, the slight cooling could be seen as a welcome development because it reduces the need for an inflation-dampening dose of higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

Bond prices immediately shot higher after the report was released, sending the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond to a 20-month low of 6.18 percent, down from 6.29 percent late Thursday. Yields move in the opposite direction of bond prices.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month matched August’s rate and was just a shade above the 4.8 percent rate in July, lowest since 1973, the Labor Department said today.

Employers added 215,000 jobs to their payrolls in September, up from a paltry 40,000 in August, the fewest in 11 months. But the United Parcel Service strike and an early return to school by many teachers skewed both numbers.

The strike cut 162,000 jobs from the August figure and its settlement added an equal number in September. Local education jobs jumped by 64,000 in August and dropped by 47,000 in September _ after seasonal adjustment.

``Changes in the school calendar continue to make precise seasonal adjustments problematic,″ said Katharine G. Abraham, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Without those two special factors, payrolls increased 138,000 in August and 100,000 in September, both modest figures when compared with the 254,000 monthly average from January through July.

Meanwhile, average hourly earnings of non-supervisory workers jumped 4 cents last month to a seasonally adjusted $12.34, following a 6-cent increase in August.

The average workweek inched down from 34.6 hours in August to 34.5 hours in September.

The overall modest showing in job creation masked fairly brisk increases in services, up 229,000. Computer, engineering and management services all posted healthy gains.

And mining employment, which has been falling long term, rose by 3,000 jobs, mostly in the oil and gas industry.

However, manufacturers shed 16,000 jobs, with the declines concentrated at auto plants and clothing factories.

Among demographic groups, unemployment in September was 4.1 percent for adult men and 4.4 percent for adult women, both unchanged; 16.7 for teen-agers, up from 16.4 percent; 4.3 percent for whites, up from 4.2 percent; 9.6 percent for blacks, up from 9.3 percent, and 7.6 percent for Hispanics, up from 7.2 percent.

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