United States unemployment falls to 48-year low in September

06 October, 2018, 10:22 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • Vulnerable Employment

With unemployment so low, companies are facing intense pressure to raise pay to land workers.

Employees temporarily left unable to work during natural disasters can be left off the government's monthly jobs survey, especially part time workers who receive no pay during the week of the survey, meaning figures can rebound in the month after a storm.

Economists have forecast that the government will report that employers added a solid 184,000 jobs, according to the data provider FactSet, and that unemployment dipped from 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent, matching an 18-year low. So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 208,000, compared with 182,000 last year.

In August, average hourly wages rose 2.9 percent from 12 months earlier - the biggest year-over-year increase since the recession officially ended in June 2009. Bond yields rise when prices fall, and they spiked Wednesday to their highest level in over seven years after a strong private-payroll report from ADP and bullish comments from the Federal Reserve's chairman, Jerome Powell.

Unemployment among African Americans declined three-tenths of a percent to 6 percent, close to the record low of 5.9 percent set in May. The rate was actually 7.5 percent in September, when counting people who sought a job in the past year and also those with part-time jobs in want of a full-time one.

Teenagers, less-educated workers and disabled Americans have also made progress in recent months and anecdotal reports suggest that companies were becoming more willing to hire people with criminal records or to waive drug-testing requirements. In 2018 so far, manufacturing has added 278,000 jobs.

Average hourly earnings are forecast to have increased 0.3 percent in September after leaping 0.4 percent in the prior month.

Wage growth remains sufficient to keep inflation around the Fed's 2 percent target.


As more slack is squeezed out of the labour market, economists expect annual wage growth to hit 3%. Amazon this week raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"Businesses of all sizes are indicating they are doing whatever they can to keep their workers", said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

Beyond the payroll numbers and the jobless rate, the real news was that wages continued their steady but moderate rise. "The standard measures just don't reflect those increases well, if at all".

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.

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.

Washington last month slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $60bn worth of USA products. The United States and China had already imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of each other's goods. The United States has since struck a trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

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

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