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Unemployment rate falls to 49-year low

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

Posted: Oct 6, 2018 2:30 PM
Updated: Oct 6, 2018 2:30 PM

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

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

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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, with leisure and hospitality employment down slightly after trending upwards over the last several months.

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.

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. Over the course of this year, recruiters have been more open to job candidates they may before have overlooked, such as those with criminal histories. The employment rate for people with disabilities has also jumped sharply over the past two months.

Wage growth, however, has not accelerated. Average hourly earnings rose 2.8% 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 as the Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates in response to a strengthening economy.

Other measures of income have been more positive, such as real personal disposable income (which takes taxes into account) and the employment cost index (which incorporates the cost of benefits like healthcare).

Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist of the employee review site Glassdoor, says the salaries people have been reporting through their platform show stronger growth than official measures indicate.

"It's still relatively slow, but it's building," Chamberlain says, expressing confidence that the Labor Department's hourly earnings measure will break the 3.0% threshold soon. "I'm not sure there's much slack left to wring out of this labor market."

Wall Street seems to agree. Bond yields spiked following the jobs report, with the benchmark 10-Year Treasury hitting 3.24% -- its highest level in more than seven years.

Investors are betting that there's no reason why the Fed won't raise interest rates again in December and several more times next year too. Stocks tumbled as a result. The Dow fell more than 200 points in mid-afternoon trading.

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.

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. The National Association of Manufacturers have attributed continued growth to regulatory rollbacks and tax cuts enacted last year, and their quarterly survey shows that 73.2% of their members report attracting a qualified workforce to be their top business challenge.

The retail sector shed 20,000 jobs, largely from garden and building material supply stores, after having showed relatively strong growth in the first half of the year.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61839

Reported Deaths: 1707
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19569839
Ramsey7717268
Dakota4507106
Anoka3752115
Stearns290920
Washington216345
Nobles17686
Olmsted176723
Scott159020
Mower11052
Rice10388
Blue Earth9325
Wright8975
Carver8783
Clay78840
Sherburne7328
Kandiyohi7021
St. Louis57319
Todd4292
Lyon4253
Freeborn3601
Steele3512
Nicollet34713
Watonwan3230
Benton3203
Winona26416
Beltrami2440
Crow Wing23814
Le Sueur2261
Martin2095
Chisago2041
McLeod2020
Goodhue1999
Otter Tail1983
Cottonwood1780
Becker1611
Pipestone1589
Polk1554
Waseca1490
Itasca14612
Douglas1441
Carlton1420
Unassigned13141
Dodge1290
Isanti1290
Pine1290
Murray1241
Chippewa1071
Morrison931
Wabasha930
Brown892
Faribault890
Meeker872
Rock850
Sibley842
Koochiching793
Jackson790
Pennington751
Cass742
Mille Lacs723
Fillmore670
Renville665
Lincoln580
Grant563
Swift551
Yellow Medicine520
Roseau520
Pope480
Houston420
Aitkin411
Norman400
Kanabec371
Redwood360
Hubbard350
Wilkin343
Marshall290
Wadena270
Mahnomen271
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake210
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle80
Cook50
Lake of the Woods40
Kittson30

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49380

Reported Deaths: 942
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10444208
Woodbury373452
Black Hawk315766
Linn242888
Johnson211819
Dallas189835
Buena Vista179412
Scott174314
Dubuque169831
Marshall145026
Pottawattamie133228
Story117315
Wapello90533
Muscatine85148
Webster8268
Crawford7313
Sioux6433
Cerro Gordo63417
Warren5721
Tama55429
Jasper48127
Wright4751
Plymouth47011
Clinton4164
Dickinson3844
Louisa37814
Washington30510
Boone2623
Hamilton2511
Franklin24512
Bremer2307
Clarke2043
Clay2011
Carroll1942
Emmet1934
Des Moines1872
Shelby1861
Hardin1840
Marion1750
Poweshiek1608
Benton1601
Floyd1582
Allamakee1564
Jackson1561
Mahaska14217
Guthrie1355
Cedar1341
Jones1332
Buchanan1291
Henry1274
Madison1252
Butler1252
Hancock1212
Lee1183
Humboldt1181
Pocahontas1172
Delaware1171
Lyon1152
Harrison1101
Cherokee1101
Clayton1063
Taylor1000
Winneshiek971
Iowa971
Page950
Monona910
Kossuth900
Mills890
Palo Alto880
Jefferson870
Calhoun862
Winnebago860
Sac860
Fayette850
Osceola840
Grundy801
Mitchell790
Cass791
Union781
Monroe748
Lucas734
Worth670
Davis612
Montgomery604
Chickasaw550
Appanoose513
Howard500
Fremont430
Greene430
Keokuk371
Van Buren361
Ida310
Adair300
Audubon291
Decatur250
Ringgold231
Wayne201
Adams160
Unassigned10
Rochester
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Charles City
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