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

The American Economy Added Just 134,000 Jobs in September Unemployment Drops to Lowest Level Since 1969		AFP5 Oct 2018

The Fed is forecasting the economy will grow 3.1 percent this year - that's up from the 2.8 percent it projected in June. These are the pocketbook issues that actually make a difference in the lives of voters. So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 208,000, compared with 182,000 last year.

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

BBC Economics Correspondent Andrew Walker said an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was quite an achievement. For close to two-thirds of the USA population, this is the lowest unemployment rate in their lifetime. Analysts noted that this is the lowest unemployment rate since 1969.

But with unemployment at levels not seen since Richard Nixon was in the White House, the September report was also sure strengthen the case for the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates. The most direct evidence of the hurricane's impact showed up in the elevated number of workers who reported reduced hours due to bad weather - this metric was over six times larger than what is normal for September. The decline in employment in the industry of leisure and hospitality can be attributed partially to the effects of Hurricane Florence.

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

While Florence probably affected the figures during the month, hiring may settle into a more sustainable pace after a strong run that has pushed the economy closer to full employment. Overall government payrolls increased by 13 000. However, the so-called real unemployment rate, which factors in discouraged workers who take part-time jobs for economic reasons, climbed to 7.5 percent. The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours, department figures showed. A category that includes restaurants, hotels and casinos lost jobs for the first time since last September, when Hurricane Harvey had a similar effect.

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.

While surveys have shown manufacturers growing more concerned about an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China, that does not appear to have affected hiring. 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.

Last month, average hourly pay increased 2.8 percent from a year earlier, one tick below the year-over-year gain in August.

Washington last month slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $60bn worth of United States products.

Despite newly-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, manufacturing added another 18,000 jobs.

Despite the Trump administration's protectionist trade policy, the trade deficit continues to deteriorate.

Imports of goods and services increased 0.6 percent to a record US$262.7 billion in August. And Americans with only a high school diploma recorded their best unemployment rate since 2001. "Wage growth, which picked up in the prior month, came in line with expectations with hourly earnings rising 0.3% on the month for an annual rate of 2.8%".

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