Published: Sat, October 06, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

U.S. jobless rate at lowest since 1969

U.S. jobless rate at lowest since 1969

The Labor Department's closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed a steady rise in wages, suggesting moderate inflation pressures, which could ease concerns about the economy overheating and keep the Federal Reserve on a path of gradual interest rate increases.

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

August's job gains were also revised significantly higher in Friday's report, with the BLS now estimating the economy created 270,000 jobs in August, 69,000 more than previously estimated. "We'll see in earnings season how much of an impact it will have on profit markets as labor is a business's biggest cost".

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

But it was still enough to keep the overall unemployment rate at the lowest it has been since the end of 1969. "T$3 he official data only include people who were paid something - anything - in the survey period".

The average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours, today's figures show. The unemployment rate hit 3.5 percent in December 1969, after a streak of brisk economic growth had kept joblessness at or below 4 percent for four years.

The Labor Department said 299,000 people weren't at work due to bad weather, reflecting the storm's impact.

The weakness in payrolls last month is not corroborated by other labor market data.

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Pay gains remain modest but are showing signs of accelerating. The dollar.DXY was little changed against a basket of currencies, while stocks on Wall Street were trading lower. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 0.5 percentage point and 795,000, respectively.

Average hourly earnings are forecast to have increased 0.3 percent in September after leaping 0.4 percent in the prior month. 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. As more slack is squeezed out of the labor market, economists expect annual wage growth to hit 3 percent. Amazon responded on Tuesday by raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

For now, consumers, business executives and most economists remain optimistic. Both drops could have been affected by the hurricane, which likely disrupted hiring in these high turnover sectors.

Still, if the prime-age workers increasingly enter the job market, their numbers could expand the workforce a bit and help accelerate economic growth.

Job gains were noted in healthcare, up 26,000, transportation and warehousing, up 24,000, and construction, up 23,000.

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 US and China had already imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of each other's goods.

Meanwhile, the United States trade deficit increased to a six-month high in August, up 6.4% to $53.2bn (£40.6bn). The last time the United States jobless rate was so low preceded more than a decade of economic pain tied to rising price pressures and efforts to rein them in.

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