Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Unemployment Rate Falls To 49-Year Low Of 3.7 Percent

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Laurie Berry | 07 October, 2018, 09:48

The unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September, its lowest level since 1969, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Hurricane Florence, the storm that made landfall along the mid-Atlantic US coast on September 14, caused widespread disruption for homes and employers but it was not possible to determine the extent to which this might have depressed the September jobs numbers, officials said.

Among those worst affected were restaurants, hotels and casinos, which saw jobs lost for the first time since September 2017 - when Hurricane Harvey hit.

Even with unemployment at a historic low, average hourly pay increased just 2.8 percent from a year earlier, one tick below the yearly gain in August.

"The labor market remains healthy, and we think the Goldilocks scenario of decent economic growth with tame inflation is poised to continue", said Aaron Anderson, head of research at Fisher Investments in San Francisco. The yield on the government's 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for mortgages and other loans, has touched its highest level in seven years.

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

"Given the fact that the job market has been so strong for so long, there is an expectation that labour will begin to take more of the capital from corporate profits going forward", said Michael Arone, the chief investment strategist for the US SPDR business at State Street Global Advisors. Many of those jobs are likely to bounce back in the coming months.

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The report said that employment in leisure and hospitality was down by 17,000 during the month but before September, it had been "on a modest upward trend". In the last 12 months wages increased 2.8%.

USA unemployment has fallen to 3.7%, its lowest rate in 48 years, despite the effects of Hurricane Florence. Measures of consumer confidence are at or near their highest levels in 18 years. That was not expected to move the needle on last month's wage number but served as a key anecdote on the pressure companies were under - politically and from a tight labour market - to raise wages.

Americans have continued spending steadily and appear to be in generally stable financial shape. Increasingly expensive houses, higher mortgage rates and a shortage of properties for sale are slowing purchases.

Andrew Grantham, senior economist at CIBC described September's employment report as "solid", despite the weaker than expected headline number. Auto sales have also slumped.

This comes despite USA president Donald Trump's tariffs on goods from countries including China and those of the European Union. Most U.S. businesses will try to absorb the higher costs themselves, at least for now, economists say, and avoid layoffs.

Nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 185,000 jobs last month after surging 201,000 in August, according to a Reuters survey of economists.

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