US Job Growth Cools; Unemployment Rate Falls to 3.7 Percent

US Job Growth Cools; Unemployment Rate Falls to 3.7 Percent

While Florence probably affected the figures during the month, hiring may settle into a more sustainable pace after a strong run that has pushed the economy closer to full employment and reinforced expectations for a fourth interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year.

It fell from 3.9 per cent in August to 3.7 per cent in September, the lowest since December 1969, the Department of Labor's employment situation report showed today.

U.S. unemployment has fallen to 3.7%, its lowest rate in 48 years, despite the effects of Hurricane Florence. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 0.5 percentage point and 795,000, respectively.

Many economists have forecast that Hurricane Florence, which flooded parts of North and SC last month, depressed September's job growth by roughly 30,000.

With September's increase below the 0.5 percent gain notched during the same period last year, that would lower the annual increase in wages to 2.8 percent from 2.9 percent in August, which was the biggest rise in more than nine years.

The average workweek for all private employees was unchanged at 34.5 hours.

Amazon's announcement this week that it would increase its minimum hourly wage to $15 for all its US employees elevated the pressure on other employers to lift their wages as well. Investors have grown concerned about higher interest rates and the effect they might have on the economy and the stock market.

Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate held steady at 62.7 per cent, while the number of unemployed people fell by 2,70,000 to six million, with the largest drop among adult women.

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The U.S. unemployment rate is at a historic low.

However, the number of jobs added was only 134,000, down from 270,000 in August. Over the last three months, job gains have averaged 190,000 per month. The yield on the government's 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for mortgages and other loans, has touched its highest level in seven years. While the data came in weaker than expected, the report noted higher revision in July and August.

As more slack is squeezed out of the labour market, economists expect annual wage growth to hit 3%. "The standard measures just don't reflect those increases well, if at all".

The category that includes restaurants, hotels and casinos lost jobs for the first time since September 2017, when Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area, and retailers last month shed 20,000 jobs. In fact, the Fed's latest survey of national business conditions reflected concerns about labor shortages that are extending into non-skilled occupations as much as about tariffs.

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

The politically sensitive goods trade deficit with China surged 4.7 percent to a record high of US$38.6 billion.

Manufacturers, which are more dependent on foreign markets than other industries, added 18,000 jobs last month, a sign that President Donald Trump's trade fight with China and other countries is having little effect on hiring.

For now, consumers, business executives and most economists remain optimistic.

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