Job gains in September were slightly weaker than the 172,000 jobs that Wall Street economists expected, but the 156,000 jobs that employers did add were enough to welcome new workers and bring back some of those who fell off the map after the Great Recession, per the New York Times. The Labor Department also said the unemployment rate ticked up to 5% from 4.9%, the AP reports, but mostly for a positive reason: More Americans came off the sidelines and looked for work, though not all of them found jobs. Job growth has averaged 178,000 a month so far this year, down from last year's pace of 229,000. Still, hiring at that level is enough to lower the unemployment rate over time. Economists have expected the pace to slow as the supply of unemployed workers declines.
The hiring figures could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise the short-term interest rate it controls by December. After seven years of pinning that rate at a record low near zero to try to spur more borrowing and spending, the Fed raised its rate in December. It hasn't acted since, but the Fed signaled last month it would likely do so in the coming months. Meanwhile, consumers appear increasingly confident about the economy, which could stimulate a rebound in spending. Consumer confidence reached a nine-year high last month, and retailers are expecting robust spending for the holiday shopping season. Taken all together, the news out of today's jobs report signals the US economy "looks more resilient than some campaign rhetoric might suggest," the Times notes.