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Unemployment rate falls to 49-year low

The last time the American job market was this strong, astronauts were still going to the moon.The un...

Posted: Oct 6, 2018 12:30 PM
Updated: Oct 6, 2018 12:30 PM

The last time the American job market was this strong, astronauts were still going to the moon.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.7% in September, the lowest level since December 1969.

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The US economy added 134,000 jobs last month, below expectations and the monthly average for the year. The Labor Department said Hurricane Florence may have impacted jobs results, with leisure and hospitality employment down slightly after trending upwards over the last several months.

The good news is the previous two months' gains were revised up by a combined 87,000 jobs, boosting the monthly average for the past year to a robust 211,400 jobs.

The historically low unemployment rate and relatively weak job growth number might indicate that employers are having an increasingly difficult time adding positions because of the availability of workers. Over the course of this year, recruiters have been more open to job candidates they may before have overlooked, such as those with criminal histories. The employment rate for people with disabilities has also jumped sharply over the past two months.

Wage growth, however, has not accelerated. Average hourly earnings rose 2.8% over the year, slightly above the average over the past year but down from last month's increase. Those numbers are not adjusted for inflation, which has been eating into wage gains over the past several months as the Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates in response to a strengthening economy.

Other measures of income have been more positive, such as real personal disposable income (which takes taxes into account) and the employment cost index (which incorporates the cost of benefits like healthcare).

Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist of the employee review site Glassdoor, says the salaries people have been reporting through their platform show stronger growth than official measures indicate.

"It's still relatively slow, but it's building," Chamberlain says, expressing confidence that the Labor Department's hourly earnings measure will break the 3.0% threshold soon. "I'm not sure there's much slack left to wring out of this labor market."

Wall Street seems to agree. Bond yields spiked following the jobs report, with the benchmark 10-Year Treasury hitting 3.24% -- its highest level in more than seven years.

Investors are betting that there's no reason why the Fed won't raise interest rates again in December and several more times next year too. Stocks tumbled as a result. The Dow fell more than 200 points in mid-afternoon trading.

The labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of the population that is either working or looking for work, has remained essentially unchanged for the past few months.

Professional and business services remained the economy's strongest sector, with a cumulative 560,000 jobs added over the past year. Health care and transportation and warehousing have also continued their strong gains, adding 26,000 and 24,000 jobs respectively in September.

Despite newly-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, manufacturing added another 18,000 jobs. The National Association of Manufacturers have attributed continued growth to regulatory rollbacks and tax cuts enacted last year, and their quarterly survey shows that 73.2% of their members report attracting a qualified workforce to be their top business challenge.

The retail sector shed 20,000 jobs, largely from garden and building material supply stores, after having showed relatively strong growth in the first half of the year.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 40443

Reported Deaths: 635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah8743155
Marion5590106
Washington546973
Umatilla329543
Clackamas299065
Lane221226
Malheur186634
Jackson15556
Deschutes107413
Yamhill95615
Linn76414
Polk63915
Jefferson5979
Morrow5426
Lincoln50913
Union4582
Benton4186
Klamath4013
Wasco33515
Douglas3314
Hood River2721
Josephine2583
Columbia2491
Clatsop2340
Coos2290
Baker1132
Crook872
Tillamook700
Curry561
Wallowa402
Lake340
Sherman180
Harney170
Gilliam110
Grant100
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 886939

Reported Deaths: 17167
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2904866944
Riverside650561275
San Bernardino609451065
Orange576351423
San Diego53263863
Kern33551413
Fresno30220430
Sacramento24811474
Santa Clara23591382
Alameda22932435
San Joaquin21436484
Contra Costa18273238
Stanislaus17403394
Tulare17317279
Ventura13930160
Imperial12610336
San Francisco11969137
Monterey1115884
San Mateo10918157
Santa Barbara9671119
Merced9386153
Sonoma9016134
Kings817383
Solano720574
Marin7036127
Madera492873
San Luis Obispo408032
Placer402355
Yolo309958
Butte302651
Santa Cruz272524
Napa190814
Sutter182112
Shasta178629
San Benito141114
El Dorado13024
Yuba128010
Mendocino111121
Tehama7938
Lassen7611
Lake67815
Glenn6473
Nevada5988
Humboldt5609
Colusa5486
Calaveras33917
Amador31316
Tuolumne2574
Inyo21815
Siskiyou1860
Del Norte1751
Mono1752
Mariposa782
Plumas610
Modoc270
Trinity250
Sierra60
Alpine30
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