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KAI RYSSDAL: Truth be told, the odds increased dramatically today that the Fed's not going to do anything at its next meeting. What might prove to be the deciding piece of information came from the Labor Department this morning: The economy added 110,000 new jobs last month, just about in line with expectations.
Marketplace's Steve Tripoli drew the short straw out of our assignment meeting this morning -- so he did what a lot of reporters did with today's jobs report: He called around to some economists to find out exactly what the numbers mean.
If you were perhaps hoping to gain a little clarity from that effort, maybe you didn't hear me: Those were economists he was talking to. These folks must get together at some big economists' convention months in advance and plan days like this as a practical joke.
Some actual economists' takes on today's jobs report? Here's our staff reading a few:
QUOTES FROM ECONOMISTS:
"I think the developing trend is unfavorable."
"Not necessarily a strong showing, but a steady one."
"It looks like job creation's on a slow track."
"As far as being in recession already" -- never mind...
STEVE TRIPOLI: Then they all go home and pour themselves a nice drink... Michael Feroli at JPMorgan Chase is in the things-are-OK camp:
MICHAEL FEROLI: The economy is slowing, but it's not really collapsing.
Feroli says today's numbers fully take into account all the nasty credit crunch and subprime mortgage headlines.
FEROLI: These are numbers for September, and I think it's safe to say that if we were to see a sharp break in business behavior it would be probably be reflected to some degree in the September payroll report.
So, we're out of the woods? That's just one opinion -- here's another:
RICHARD MOODY: The trend rate of growth of private-sector employment is clearly slowing, and continues to pose risks for the broader economy.
That's Richard Moody at the Mission Residential investing firm in Texas. Moody sees a different sort of evidence in today's numbers.
MOODY: There are a number of industries that are laying off workers. We had the smallest number of industries hiring last month that we had since January of 2005.
If you can distill anything from the economists, it's that there seems to be a lower risk of recession in today's numbers. But also less of a chance the economy will be taking off anytime soon. So no booms and no blow-outs. The economists have spoken... Sort of.
I'm Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.