Payrolls in US rise 156,000 as more Americans go back to work

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG)- Employers continued to add to payrolls in September as people streamed into the workforce and most found jobs amid record openings, indicating the US labour market is settling into a pace that will support the economy.

The 156,000 increase followed a 167,000 rise in August that was more than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 172,000 advance. The jobless rate rose to 5 per cent as the labour participation rate ticked up.

While payroll additions have slowed from last year, they're still above what economists say is needed to accommodate labour-force growth, as employers face a limited pool of available and qualified workers.

Steady progress will underpin further wage gains and consumer spending, the main driver of US expansion this year, and encourage Federal Reserve policy makers to follow through on their forecast for an interest-rate increase by the end of 2016.

"Job gains are slowing down a bit but it's not such a concern," Scott Brown, chief economist for Raymond James Financial, said before the report. "What matters is that the job market is getting tighter. The fundamentals look strong for consumer spending."

The labour market is playing a key role in the race for the White House. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has focused on job losses in manufacturing that he attributes to failed trade deals. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has nodded to Americans' worries about declines at factories while defending President Barack Obama's record in helping the economy heal after the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

September payrolls have tended to disappoint when the initial data are released, based on data since the last recession ended.

The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate Labor Department survey of households, rose as employment increased by 354,000. The jobless rate was projected to hold at 4.9 per cent, according to the survey median, close to the lowest since 2007.

The participation rate, which shows the share of working-age people in the labour force, increased to 62.9 per cent, from 62.8 per cent. It has been hovering close to the lowest level in more than three decades.

Private employment, which excludes government agencies, rose by 167,000 after a 144,000 increase the prior month.