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U.S. economy expected to show gain of 55,000 jobs last month

October 6, 2011 |  7:03 pm

Protests
The bar seems low for the government’s report Friday on September employment. But after August’s disappointing report, is it low enough?

The U.S. economy created a net 55,000 new jobs last month, according to the average estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

That would be a better showing than August -- when net growth was nil -- but a far cry from monthly average growth of 178,000 jobs from January through April, when many investors fantasized that the labor market recovery had finally achieved critical mass.

They were wrong: As the economy slowed and consumer and business confidence eroded, job growth averaged just 53,000 net new positions a month from May through July, before falling to zero in August.

Why think growth picked up at all last month, when financial markets were continuing to crumble and Europe’s debt crisis worsened?

It’s partly technical, economists at brokerage UBS noted in a preview report Thursday. The August employment report was depressed by the temporary loss of 45,000 striking Verizon workers. They’ve since returned to work, which will boost September payrolls.

UBS projects growth of 65,000 jobs for the month.

One major drag on the overall jobs data has been continued shrinkage of state and local government payrolls. By contrast, private-sector payrolls have risen every month since March 2010.

Even so, average private-sector growth of 87,000 jobs a month from May through August was down from an average of 204,000 a month from January through April.

The Bloomberg survey of economists pegs private-sector job growth at 90,000 positions in September.

Any way you slice it, these are dismally weak numbers for an economy with 14 million unemployed people.

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-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Union members and Occupy Wall Street protesters near Wall Street in New York on Thursday. Credit: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/ Getty Images

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