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US Employment Rate at 3.7% Touches 48-year-low in Sept

08 October 2018

The U.S. jobless rate dropped to 3.7 percent in September - the lowest since 1969, though the economy added a lower-than-expected 134,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

The employment rate in the leisure and hospitality fields showed little change in September, a contrast from the modest upward trend that had been in place before last month, the Labor Department said. Most say it's a temporary dip, blaming the effects of Hurricane Florence, which battered and flooded the Carolinas in mid-September, during the time the jobs survey is conducted.

While unemployment remains low, wages grew 2.8 percent in September, a slight disappointment after 2.9 percent growth in August, which was the highest in nine years.

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.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said earlier this week that the economy's outlook was "remarkably positive" and he believed it was on the cusp of a "historically rare" era of ultra-low unemployment and tame inflation.

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That run has added almost 20 million people to the nation's payrolls since the Great Recession, which cost almost 9 million their jobs.

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.

"We're humming, we're just humming", White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters. So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 208,000, compared with 182,000 last year. Retail payrolls dropped by 20,000 jobs in September amid widespread declines across the sector. Economists have forecast that growth reached a 3 percent to 3.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter.

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

As more slack is squeezed out of the labor market, economists expect annual wage growth to hit 3 percent.

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Construction companies hired 23,000 more workers last month after increasing payrolls by 26,000 jobs in August.

According to Fiona Cincotta, a senior market analyst at City Index: "the high levels of employment have been feeding wage increases and fueling higher consumer spending to rising inflation".

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. In fact, the Fed's latest survey of national business conditions reflected concerns about labour shortages that are extending into non-skilled occupations as much as about tariffs. The United States has since struck a trade deal with Canada and Mexico. African-Americans, Latinos and other groups that often face discrimination are experiencing some of their lowest rates of joblessness on record.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the overall trade deficit swelling to US$53.5 billion in August.

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US Employment Rate at 3.7% Touches 48-year-low in Sept