U.S. payrolls and wages cool while jobless rate hits 48-year low

Posted October 08, 2018

The rate dropped from 3.9 percent in August, according to the latest Labor Department report.

Non-farm payrolls data showed that employers created 134,000 jobs last month, the least in a year and below economists' expectations of a gain of 185,000, although the labour department said that some of the weakness could reflect the impact of Hurricane Florence. That reversed the bulk of the increase from the prior week when claims were boosted by Hurricane Florence, which slammed North and SC in mid-September.

Last month, employment in the leisure and hospitality sector fell by 17,000 jobs, the first drop since September 2017.

- Average earnings rose by 8 cents an hour and are up 2.8 percent over the past year.

The labor market slowed substantially in September as employers added 134,000 jobs in a possible sign that worker shortages and USA trade skirmishes are starting to take a bigger toll on hiring.

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Asian unemployment increased to 3.5 percent while white unemployment dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest since December 1969. But retailers cut 20,000 jobs. July's numbers were revised up to 165,000 jobs from the previous estimate of 147,000; at the same time August's job number was revised up to 270,000 from the initial estimate of 201,000.

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

US financial markets were little moved by the report. With September's increase below the 0.5 percent gain notched during the same period last year, that lowered 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.

Employers added fewer nonfarm positions than expected as Hurricane Florence caused job losses in restaurants and bars.

"I view this as the strongest labor market in a generation", said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at the career site Glassdoor. But wage increases so far have been modest, something that puzzles economists but allows the Fed to move gradually.

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Many forecasters believe it will decline even more in the months to come.

In September, professional and business services grew by 54,000, transportation and warehousing jobs by almost 24,000, construction by 23,000, manufacturing by 18,000 and health care by almost 30,000.

Washington last month slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $60 billion worth of US products. The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum as well as on roughly half of China's imports to the United Sates.

"Growth in imports likely will remain solid in coming quarters as long as growth in domestic demand remains buoyant", said Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In addition, the GDP grew an estimated 4.2 percent in the second quarter, claims of unemployment insurance are the lowest since the 1960s, middle-class income is highest on record (adjusted for inflation), and small business optimism has hit one record after another since Trump's election.

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