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Oct. 3, 2013

Economy Watch: ADP Reports Modest Jobs Growth

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

In a normal first week of the month, Wednesday’s Automated Data Processing report on employment would be a way station on route to more official numbers on jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and probably not a good predictor of the government numbers. For now, however, BLS activities are suspended.

In any case, ADP reported on Wednesday that private sector employment increased by 166,000 jobs from August to September. That was a little less than economists expected. Also, August’s job gain was revised down from 176,000 to 159,000.

Economists are also expecting a relatively modest report, when it eventually comes out, from the BLS. The Wall Street Journal’s panel of 15 economists, for instance, believes that 185,000 jobs were created in September, compared with 169,000 in August. The group expects the official U.S. unemployment rate to stay the same at 7.3 percent.

Car and truck sales edge down in September

Another privately produced economic report released this week, from Autodata, found that total U.S. light vehicle sales dropped to an annualized rate of 15.28 million units in September from 16.09 million units in August. Much of the drop came from lower truck sales, which were down to an annualized 7.56 million in September from 8.06 million the month before. Car sales dropped only somewhat, from a rate of 8.03 million units to 7.72 million units.

The September sales numbers were the lowest since April, but came on the heels of a very strong August. In fact, August was the first time the rate was north of an annualized 16 million units since before the recession, back in November 2007.

Historically speaking, the current sales rate is on the soft side, but not drastically low. During the pre-recessionary years from 2002 to 2007, sales hovered around 16 million units per year, with some spikes as high as over 20 million. The recession crashed car buying temporarily, with sales contracting to below 10 million in 2009 for the first time since the steep but shorter recession of the early 1980s.

Shutdown continues

Day 2 of the federal shutdown passed on Wednesday without resolution. Late in the day, word from Capitol Hill was that President Obama told Republican Congressional leaders that he would negotiate with them after they agreed to reopen the government and to an increase in the nation’s debt limit, with no strings attached. The U.S. will run out of statutory authority to borrow more money around the middle of this month.

Wall Street swung downward on Wednesday, perhaps worried about the government, perhaps not, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 58.56 points, or 0.39 percent. The S&P 500 lost 0.07 percent and the Nasdaq was off 0.08 percent.

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