unemployment_downThe unemployment rate fell to 7.2% in September, according to numbers released Tuesday by the federal Department of Labor.

The release was delayed due to the government shutdown that lasted through the first 16 days of October because of the inability of Congress and the White House to reach an agreement on the federal budget.

Overall, the economy added about 148,000, a low number. Some speculate that the lower number is the result of employers holding back on hiring because of the government shut down, according to the Associated Press.

The 7.2% unemployment rate is a slight decrease from the August rate of 7.3%. While still high from a historical perspective, the number is about the lowest unemployment rate in five years and is down from the 7.9% rate at the beginning of the year.

The effects of the shutdown might be reflected in the September report and will almost certainly affect the numbers for October because of temporary layoffs of government workers as well as government contractors. The October numbers will be released in early November.

The effect is so widespread that some economists are saying they will not have a clear picture of the unemployment situation until the November numbers are released in early December, according to the Associated Press.

Hiring has slowed this summer and early fall. An average of 143,000 jobs were added from July through September, less than the 182,000 average from April through June.

Still, the overall drop in the unemployment rate is good for those either about to begin school or on their way to earning a degree. The hope is that the trend of a decreasing unemployment rate will continue.

The economy has added an average 143,000 new jobs a month from July through September, weaker than the 182,000 added from April through June.

Some were pessimistic about the numbers.

“You would think by now you would be consistently creating over a couple hundred-thousand jobs a month, at least,” Brad Levitt, a senior economist for Oppenheimer Funds, told CNBC.

CNBC also quoted Claire McKenna, policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, as saying, “This kind of report adds to the sense of foreboding about our economy.”

Even those who were more optimistic still sounded a note of caution. Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist for BTIG, told the Associated Press, “We continue to create just enough jobs to lower the unemployment rate.”

The Labor Department also revised numbers from July and August. The August number increased to 193,000 jobs from the previous 169,000 estimate. However, the number of jobs added in July was revised from 104,000 to 89,000, the lowest monthly figure in more than year.

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