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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
US employment outlook brightens
GM car worker
Jobs figures are a crucial barometer of the economy's health
The US created more jobs last month than expected while revised figures showed the labour market was stronger in August than first thought.

The US Labor Department said the economy added 110,000 new jobs in September, higher than the 100,000 figure predicted by economists.

And rather than shedding 4,000 jobs in August as initially estimated, 89,000 new jobs were actually created.

Jobs data is seen as a key indicator of the health of the US economy.

US shares rose on news of the better-than-expected figures but economists pointed out the overall unemployment rate had risen to 4.7% from 4.6%, the highest for a year.

Construction weakness

Had August's initial estimate been confirmed it would have suggested a sharp slowdown in the economy since the economy has not shed jobs on a monthly basis for four years.

In fact, the government revised upwards non-farm payroll figures for each of the past two months.

For July, it now says 93,000 jobs were created as opposed to the 68,000 first estimated.

Concerns about the strength of the labour market was one of the factors behind the Federal Reserve's decision to cut interest rates by a half point last month.

It does not signal any great strength in the economy
Michael Metz, Oppenheimer & Co

The dramatic move followed the turbulence in global financial markets triggered by the slump in the US housing market.

The rise in August's jobs figure was largely due to the previous underestimation of government hiring, particularly of new teachers.

While September saw a rise in recruitment in the services sector, there was a net loss in jobs in construction and manufacturing industries.

"On balance, it was quite encouraging," said Michael Metz, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer & Co.

"However, looking at it on a sixth-month basis we still have a problem with very, very slow job creation. To me it does not signal any great strength in the economy."

In reality, the US economy has to create about 100,000 jobs a month to replace those lost through retirement and natural attrition.



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