WASHINGTON — The U.S. September employment data: another month of declining unemployment for the wrong reasons, but with modest payroll gains.

The September report was on the strong side on its face, with payrolls printing up 114,000 and the unemployment rate declining 0.3 point to 7.8% as the labor force and participation rose.

But in the household survey, part-time workers for economic reasons jumped 268,000 before seasonal adjustment and adjustment turned this into a 582,000 increase. In turn this lowered the unemployment rate to its lowest since January 2009.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that the largest decrease in unemployed (a 206,000 drop) was in the 20- to 24-year old cohort, which is probably the sector that is least attached to the labor force. These workers probably have the most flexibility in taking marginal jobs. BLS also noted the monthly household survey employment measure "is more variable" than payrolls since it stems from a far smaller sample.

In other words, declining unemployment might not be the defining factor in the report. But other measures also are on the upswing.

Average hourly earnings rose 7 cents for a 1.8% gain over the year and hours rose, suggesting incomes and production rose.

August-July payrolls were revised to a 86,000 increase on net.

September's payroll composition showed some jobs stemming from education and possibly temporary finance hires: manufacturing printed down 16,000, construction up 5,000, retail rose 9,400, temporary jobs fell 2,000, healthcare soared 43,500, transport/warehouse grew 17,100 (transit rose 9,200 possibly in a back-to-school result), finance added 13,000 jobs, and government rose 10,000 (local fell 9.200 ex education).

The big wing factor was that almost 1 million government jobs were altered to just a 10,000 gain in the usual September adjustment.

Bottom line: another not bad report but not yet a breakout, with unemployment remaining high.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

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