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Unemployment Dips, Stocks Rip on Hiring Blip

Matt Nesto

If you're like me, when you come across a delicious new food you probably want to know what's in it and where you can get the recipe.

That's exactly how I felt when the succulent 7.8% unemployment rate news fell on my plate this morning, alongside another garnish-like month of hiring that came in below expectations at just 114,000.

As it turns out, the secret ingredient was not some great government conspiracy, but rather an eye-catching gain of 873,000 people who said they either rejoined, or sought to rejoin, the labor force last month — a 40-fold increase from August's gain and the biggest single-month increase in 29 years.

Economist Jerry Webman from OppenheimerFunds says the so-called household survey and other data are trying to tell us something.

"This could be suggesting that we're seeing a little bit of a pick-up in new businesses and small businesses," he says in the attached video, just like what we saw in the ADP report Wednesday, which showed that 162,000 private jobs were added last month.

Also worth noting this month was a solid gain in wages, which saw hourly earnings increase 0.3%, as well as an uptick in the participation rate (or the percentage of able-bodied Americans who are involved in the nation's 155 million-person labor force).

"It's not great and there are a lot of discouraged workers, but at least when you ask people on the telephone, there are more people working or looking for work than a month ago. It could be good news," Webman says.

One thing missing from the month's report is the whole "game the Fed" concept — that either good or bad data would impact the likelihood of more easing. But as Webman says, that's a good thing, since trading these reports is risky business.

"The truth is, you're not supposed to invest on what one number to the next really says. What you're supposed to be doing is trying to pick up some of the longer trends," says Webman. "In fact, I think having the Fed out of the picture really means we can focus on what we need to focus on, which is who's getting employed, who's making stuff, who's earning a living, and who's making a profit."