Unemployment rate holds at 9.6 percent, but job shedding continues

WASHINGTON — The nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 9.6 percent this month in the last survey to be released before the midterm elections.

It was yet another mixed report — private sector jobs increased by 64,000, but a loss of Census jobs and local government reductions forced 159,000 reductions in government jobs, leaving a net job loss of 95,000. This marks the fourth consecutive month in which employment was slightly down overall, following a 16-month trend of rising employment.

The White House has not released a statement on the jobs numbers, with President Obama due to speak on them at 11:40 a.m. Eastern at a suburban Maryland small business. Update: The Council of Economic Advisers’ Austan Goolsbee writes that “This growth provides more evidence that the economy continues to recover, but we must do more to put the economy on a path of robust economic growth.  At the same time, the rate of job growth is not as large as needed to bring the unemployment rate down quickly, as the unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent.”

“Today’s report is not merely a monthly snapshot but the latest evidence that job creation trends are falling far short of what we need for a sustainable recovery,” said Rep. John Kline, ranking Republican on the Education and Labor Committee. “Our economy remains stagnant, with major indicators showing little or no change despite our need for meaningful growth and expansion. Moreover, yesterday Gallup predicted the jobs picture may be even worse than today’s report reveals, with the most recent unemployment increases not reflected in today’s numbers.”

He’s referring to a Gallup poll released Thursday that found the unemployment rate rising sharply to 10.1 percent in the last two weeks of September, a rise Gallup Chief Economist Dennis Jacobe said “is unlikely to be picked up in the government’s unemployment report on Friday.”

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