Friday, October 04, 2019

3.5% Unemployment Rate Best Since 1969

By Susan Jones |

The work week is ending with some good news for President Donald Trump, as more records were smashed in Friday's report on September unemployment.

For the 22nd time since Donald Trump took office, the number of employed Americans reached a record high last month, climbing 319,000 from August's record 157,878,000 to 158,269,000. At the same time, the number of unemployed Americans set a Trump-era low at 5,769,000.

Those two strong numbers pushed the nation's unemployment rate to 3.5 percent in September -- down two-tenths of a point from last month, and the lowest rate since December 1969.

President Trump hailed the good news on Twitter, with a twist:

"Breaking News," Trump wrote. "Unemployment Rate, at 3.5%, drops to a 50 YEAR LOW. Wow America, lets impeach your President (even though he did nothing wrong!)."

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said the economy added 136,000 jobs in September, as employment in health care and in professional and business services continued to trend up. Employment in government also continued its upward trend in September, with 22,000 jobs added. On a negative note, manufacturing employment dropped in September, losing 2,000 jobs.

In September, the civilian non-institutional population in the United States was 259,638,000. That included all people 16 and older who did not live in an institution (such as a prison, nursing home or long-term care hospital). Of that civilian non-institutional population, 164,039,000 were in the labor force, meaning that they either had a job or were actively seeking one during the last month.

That produced a labor force participation rate of 63.2 percent, the same as it was in August, and a Trump-era high. The higher this number, the better.
Of the 164,039,000 who were in the labor force, 5,769,000 were unemployed, which put the unemployment rate at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics, 3.9 percent in September, has never been this low. The unemployment rate for blacks remained at the record low of 5.5 percent set in August.

Among the other major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites declined to 3.2 percent last month. For adult men, the jobless rate was 3.2 percent; adult women, 3.1 percent; teenagers, 12.5 percent; Asians, 2.5 percent.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised up by 7,000 from +159,000 to +166,000, and the change for August was revised up by 38,000 from +130,000 to +168,000. With these revisions, employment gains in July and August combined were 45,000 more than previously reported. After revisions, job gains have averaged 157,000 per month over the last 3 months.

In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls dropped one cent to $28.09, following an 11-cent rise in August. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.9 percent.

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.



US unemployment falls to 3.7 percent - lowest since 1969


FILE- In this Sept. 27, 2018, file photo a bilingual help wanted sign for Auto Zone, a retailer of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories, is posted outside the store in Canton, Miss. Another healthy picture of hiring is expected when the U.S. government issues its September jobs report Friday, Oct. 5. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

The U.S. unemployment rate fell in September to 3.7 percent, the lowest since 1969, when young men were being drafted to fight in Vietnam and the American auto industry and the space program were going full blast.

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. Still, it extended an extraordinary 8½-year streak of monthly job growth, the longest on record.

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

The ultra-low jobless rate — the best in nearly 49 years — reflects a healthy economy driven by strong consumer and business spending. In fact, hiring is so strong that employers are having trouble filling openings and some are being forced to offer higher pay.

Despite the similar unemployment rates, today's economy is vastly different from that of 1969. Back then, one-third of Americans worked in manufacturing; now it is barely 9 percent. Strong economic growth back then was propelled by huge government spending on the Vietnam War and newly created Great Society social programs. And women were much less likely to work.

In reporting September's employment figures, the government revised sharply upward its estimate of hiring for July and August. So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 208,000, compared with 182,000 last year.

"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.

Most analysts blamed the slower pace of hiring last month on Florence, which struck North and South Carolina and closed thousands of businesses.

The category that includes restaurants, hotels and casinos lost jobs for the first time since September 2017, when Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area, and retailers last month shed 20,000 jobs. Many of those jobs are likely to bounce back in the coming months.

Pay gains remain modest but are showing signs of accelerating. Average hourly pay in September rose 2.8 percent from a year earlier.

With unemployment so low, companies are facing intense pressure to raise pay to land workers. Amazon this week raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Paul Millman, chief executive of Chroma Technology, has struggled to find enough machine operators and engineers for his 135-person company, based in Bellows Falls, Vermont. It makes filters for handheld medical equipment, food safety test systems, and virtual reality headsets.

The company is doubling the size of one of its plants and increasingly automating its assembly process because it is so hard-pressed to find employees. It has also started calling back people who previously applied for jobs but weren't hired. That has resulted in two new hires.

Financial markets were down sharply in afternoon trading, with the Dow Jones average falling 202 points in afternoon trading. Investors have grown concerned about higher interest rates and the effect they might have on the economy and the stock market.

Friday's jobs report will probably keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise short-term interest rates, economists said, with another increase expected in December.

The economy does show some weak spots. Sales of existing homes have fallen over the past year, held back in part by higher mortgage rates. Auto sales have also slumped.

Manufacturers, which are more dependent on foreign markets than other industries, added 18,000 jobs last month, a sign that President Donald Trump's trade fight with China and other countries is having little effect on hiring.