Published: Sun, October 07, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

United States jobless rate at lowest since 1969

United States jobless rate at lowest since 1969

The unemployment rate dropped to a half-century low in September, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The historically low US unemployment rate fell again during the month of September, but about 50,000 fewer jobs were added to the economy than experts predicted.

The economy added 134,000 jobs in September while previous estimates were revised up from 147,000 to 165,000 for July and from 201,000 to 270,000 for August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on October 5.

The economy has now added jobs for almost eight straight years.

The Labor Department said it was "impossible to quantify" the hurricane's net effect on employment.

The headline of today's employment report is the drop in the unemployment rate to 3.7%, the lowest rate since December 1969.

During the April-June quarter, the USA economy expanded at a 4.2 percent annual rate, the best in four years.

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One of the main factors in the dip in the vacancies was likely to be Hurricane Florence, which struck North and SC at the beginning of September, closing thousands of businesses. "I would view this as a full-employment jobs report", Alan Krueger, a Princeton University economics professor and former head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under Barack Obama, said on Bloomberg Television. And women were much less likely to work. The average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours in September.

An Institute for Supply Management survey of manufacturers published on Tuesday showed factory activity retreated from a 14-year high in September. In the last 12 months wages increased 2.8%.

United States stock index futures briefly turned positive after the data before reversing course.

Following this report, stock futures were lower, but little-changed, while Treasury yields were still near their highs of the week with the 10-year Treasury sitting near 3.21% and the 30-year near 3.38%.

Average earnings rose 8 cents, to $27.24 per hour last month.

A separate measure, average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory workers, increased 2.7% from a year earlier, after a 2.9% gain. Pointing to the economy's health, the Fed last week raised its benchmark short-term rate and predicted that it would continue to tighten credit into 2020 to manage growth and inflation. Economist Justin Wolfers said September's data pushes up annnualized wage growth to a healthy 3.8%. A category that includes restaurants, hotels and casinos lost jobs for the first time since last September, when Hurricane Harvey had a similar effect. The storm, which caused massive flooding, made landfall at the tail end of the survey week for payrolls.

Manufacturing payrolls increased by 18,000 in September after rising by 5,000 in August. According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 185,000 in September after surging 201,000 in August.

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Jobs in professional and business services rose by 54,000 in September and has increased by 560,000 over the year.

The escalating trade war between the U.S. and China does not appear to have affected hiring in factories.

Washington last month slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $60 billion worth of US products.

This comes despite President Donald Trump's tariffs on goods from countries including China and those of the European Union. The United States has since struck a trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

Despite the Trump administration's protectionist trade policy, the trade deficit continues to deteriorate.

Imports of goods and services increased 0.6 percent to a record US$262.7 billion in August. While the data came in weaker than expected, the report noted higher revision in July and August.

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