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Stable September Jobless Rate

The nation's unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.2 percent in September, the lowest rate in nearly three decades, even though the number of payroll jobs actually fell last month as Hurricane Floyd cut into hiring.

The Labor Department reported Friday that September's rate matched August's rate at 4.2 percent — a 29-year low. The nation's jobless rate has been below 4.4 percent since March.

Employers cut payroll jobs in September by 8,000, the first decline since January 1996 when a winter blizzard disrupted hiring plans. The Labor Department said that while the growth in payroll jobs would have been extremely weak in September compared with the robust gains reported for most of this year, the hurricane cut growth by 50,000 jobs.

Many analysts expected companies to add 220,000 jobs. In August, businesses added 103,000 jobs to their payrolls, less than what the government previously estimated.

Even with the weak job growth, wage pressures accelerated in September. Average hourly earnings, a key gauge of inflation pressures, grew by 0.5 percent to $13.37 in September, much sharper than the 0.2 percent increase in August.

Written By Jeannine Aversa

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