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Unemployment rate falls to lowest level since November 2008

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since November 2008, but the government’s latest jobs report still shows a muddled picture of the economy.

According to the September jobs report, which was delayed 18 days by the government shutdown, hiring slowed last month. But the unemployment rate fell as more workers said they got jobs and joined the labor force.

Employers added 148,000 jobs in September, fewer than the 193,000 jobs they added in August, the Department of Labor reported. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 7.2% as 73,000 people joined the labor force and 133,000 people said they got jobs.

Still, 11.3 million jobless people continued to look for work, to no avail.

What’s more, the economic impact from the shutdown is not expected to show up in the data until the October jobs report is released on November 8.

The jobs report is closely watched by investors and the Federal Reserve. The Fed meets next week to reevaluate its plan for winding down its stimulus program.

Independent economists expect the Fed will want to see more data on how the shutdown impacted the economy before it will be ready to start cutting back on its $85 billion a month in bond purchases.

Stocks rose in premarket trading, as investors largely interpreted the lower unemployment rate as a sign that the Fed will continue stimulating the economy in the months ahead.

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