Unemployment drops to 5.9%, post-recession low

October 3, 2014

WASHINGTON (10/6/14)--For the first time since the Great Recession, unemployment sank below 6% last week, as the economy added 248,000 jobs in September, nudging the unemployment rate down to 5.9%, according to numbers from the Labor Department Friday ( Oct. 3).

September's job adds pushed the average gains for the third quarter to 224,000, which falls below the 267,000 average from the second quarter. Only 180,000 jobs were added in August.

While many more Americans are finding work, a reduction in the overall labor force--which dropped to a 36-year low for the month--also helped drive down unemployment.

"The participation rate has continued to fall for prime-age workers ages 25 to 44," said Sophia Koropeckyj, Moody's analyst ( "Participation has also weakened for older workers despite the expectation that aging baby boomers would remain in the labor market longer."

In any case, the sectors that contributed to the job gains included retail trade (35,000), business/professional services (81,000) and leisure/hospitality (33,000), according to Moody's.

Government payrolls climbed by 12,000, while private-sector payrolls jumped by 236,000 in September.

Further, the average weekly hours worked for all employees inched up to 34.6 from 34.5, though hours for nonsupervisory workers dropped to 33.7 from 33.8.

Average wages overall experienced a small decline for the month down to $24.53 per hour, while wages for production workers were flat (MarketWatch Oct. 3).

Overall wages on a year-over-year basis increased a meager 1.95%, according to Moody's.

"Fewer workers are employed part time involuntarily although the improvement is only for those who have had their hours curtailed," Koropeckyj said. "The number of workers employed part time because they are unable to find full-time jobs has not improved during the past year."