US Unemployment Rate Falls To 49-Year Low Of 3.7 Percent

Vulnerable Employment

The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.7 percent, reaching the lowest level since December 1969, as the economy steams ahead.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the rate edged down from 3.9 percent the month before as employers added 134,000 jobs - a figure that was probably depressed by the effects of Hurricane Florence in the South.

The Labor Department said it was possible that Hurricane Florence, which lashed the Carolinas in mid-September, could have affected employment in some industries. It also showed the labour market continuing to tighten, perhaps eventually pressuring companies to pay workers more.

Manufacturing payrolls likely rebounded in September after declining in August for the first time in 13 months amid a drop in employment at motor vehicle assembly plants.

"The acceleration in job gains this year is extraordinary in an environment where firms are having great difficulty finding qualified candidates", said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3% over last month in September and 2.8% over the prior year.

The US unemployment rate fell to a 48-year low in September even after Hurricane Florence kept many Americans away from work.

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In September, the labor force participation rate remained at 62.7 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.4 percent, was little changed.

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.

Financial markets were down sharply in afternoon trading, with the Dow Jones average falling 202 points in afternoon trading.

If the economy continues to perform, that bodes well for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike for December and two to three more hikes next year, North said. Most U.S. businesses will try to absorb the higher costs themselves, at least for now, and avoid any layoffs.

Wages outpaced inflation in September, although both the rate of wage growth and inflation have tapered off slightly in the last month.

That higher pay is likely to trim corporate profit margins, however. Bond yields spiked following the jobs report, with the benchmark 10-Year Treasury hitting 3.24 percent - its highest level in more than seven years. That's despite hiring being slower than expected in September. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, in health care, and in transportation and warehousing. 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. That trend suggests that a brighter economic outlook hasn't caused consumers to recklessly build up unsustainable debt. Analysts noted that this is the lowest unemployment rate since 1969. The jobless rate fell from August's 3.9 percent. Hiring data may show storm- related swings for October too, economists said. Sales of existing homes have fallen over the past year, held back in part by higher mortgage rates.

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