Unemployment Rate Holds at 5.4% 96,000 Jobs Added

Washington, DC, October 8—The economy added 96,000 workers in September and the jobless rate was unchanged at 5.4 percent, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists expected payrolls would rise by 148,000 last month following a previously reported increase of 144,000 in August, according to the median of 74 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. The unemployment rate matched the median forecast. The government also lowered its previous estimate for August by 16,000 jobs to 128,000 and said there was no quantifiable effect from hurricanes in the South. Manufacturing jobs fell for a third time this year. Today's results show job growth slowed against record oil prices and storms that closed stores, hotels and restaurants in Florida. The economy needs to create an average of about 150,000 jobs a month just to absorb a growing labor force and keep the jobless rate steady. Federal Reserve officials raised the benchmark interest rate three times since June and said they may keep raising the benchmark interest rate at a ``measured'' pace. The Labor Department also announced the economy may have gained an additional 236,000 jobs in the 12 months ended in March 2004, according to a preliminary assessment of hiring during that time. Current figures show 709,000 jobs were created for the period. The government will issue a final report and officially revise the numbers in February.