Unemployment rate falls to 49-year low

The last time the roaring American jobs market was this strong, astronauts were still going to the moon.

September looks to be another solid month for job growth.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September, the lowest level since December 1969.

The US economy added 134,000 jobs last month, below expectations and the monthly average for the year. The Labor Department said Hurricane Florence may have impacted jobs results.

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.

Wage growth, however, has not accelerated. Average hourly earnings rose 2.8 percent over the year, slightly above the average over the past year but down from last month’s increase. Those numbers are not adjusted for inflation, which has been eating into wage gains over the past several months.

The historically low unemployment rate and relatively weak job growth number might indicate that employers are having an increasingly difficult time adding positions because of the availability of workers.

The labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of the population that is either working or looking for work, has remained essentially unchanged for the past few months.

The Labor Department saw evidence that Hurricane Florence dragged leisure and hospitality employment down slightly. Those two industries had been trending upwards over the last several months.

Professional and business services remained the economy’s strongest sector, with a cumulative 560,000 jobs added over the past year. Health care and transportation and warehousing have also continued their strong gains, adding 26,000 and 24,000 jobs respectively in September.

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

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