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US unemployment drops to lowest since 1969

Amid signs that the global economy is slowing, Ame...

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 8:44 AM
Updated: Oct 4, 2019 3:45 PM

Amid signs that the global economy is slowing, America's labor market nonetheless remains strong.

In September, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, the lowest rate since December 1969, as employers added 136,000 jobs to the US economy. There were many signs of strength, including robust hiring in health care, transportation, professional services and state and local government.

But overall, the pace of hiring has slowed considerably since 2018, when the economy added an average of 223,000 jobs per month. The September jobs report comes in the same week as several other reports that showed the US economy is slowing.

Activity in American's factories has declined for two straight months, and the biggest piece of the economy, the services sector, is growing at its weakest pace in three years. Businesses expressed concern about tariffs, a shortage of workers and the direction of the economy.

Against that backdrop, economists and investors took the jobs report as a neutral sign. It was neither strong enough to disprove fears of a weakening economy, nor weak enough to confirm with certainty the Federal Reserve may have to cut interest rates at its October meeting, in a measure to boost growth, said Thomas Simons, an economist and senior vice president at Jefferies. Stocks nevertheless posted strong gains following the report, but overall, are still down for the week.

President Donald Trump noted the drop in the unemployment rate in a tweet shortly after the release, adding 'wow America, lets impeach your President (even though he did nothing wrong!)'

This is not the first time Trump has violated the one-hour rule that says federal employees outside the Labor Department staff that issue the report cannot publicly comment on it in the first hour after the release.

Signs of strength

Despite cracks showing in the economy, hiring has long been a bright spot. As companies fight for talent, paychecks have grown, giving more spending power to consumers. Consumer spending has kept the economy growing even as the trade war hurts US manufacturing and farming.

This most recent report from the Labor Department showed some encouraging signs: July and August's jobs reports were revised higher by a combined 45,000 jobs. Hispanic unemployment fell to 3.9%, setting a record low, while black unemployment remained at a record low of 5.5%. Minority unemployment has been tracked by the Labor Department since the early 1970s.

The nation's underemployment rate, which looks at people who are unemployed as well as those who are working part time but would prefer full-time work, fell to 6.9%. That's the lowest reading for that measure since December 2000.

The unemployment rate for adults with less than a high school education fell to 4.8%, the first time that measure has ever been below 5% on data going back to 1992.

The economy also benefited from 1,000 new positions from the US Census. However, the massive GM strike, in which about 50,000 people joined picket lines, was not counted in this month's report.

Worries about wages

A bleaker point in the report came from wages.

Average hourly wages didn't grow between August and September. Over the past year, wage growth ticked up just 2.9%, which was lower than expected and the weakest annual growth since July 2018.

Still, on the whole, 'this is not that weak of a report, despite the ebbing in job growth,' Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO, wrote in a note to clients.

That said, weakening domestic and foreign demand in light of the trade war will add uncertainty for companies and increasingly weigh on job growth, Guatieri added.

The Federal Reserve's next meeting on interest rates is scheduled to conclude on October 30. In the meantime, investors are closely watching other economic indicators for clues as to whether the central bank will cut rates again.

Following the jobs report on Friday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the economy is in 'a good place.'

'Our job is to keep it there,' he added.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 587762

Reported Deaths: 7324
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1217771724
Ramsey50848870
Dakota45493446
Anoka41276436
Washington26615280
Stearns22077221
St. Louis17637302
Scott17137124
Wright15873139
Olmsted1316498
Sherburne1157185
Carver1041645
Clay811792
Rice7991106
Blue Earth744441
Crow Wing658688
Kandiyohi650683
Chisago589051
Otter Tail571778
Benton563697
Goodhue474972
Mower463732
Douglas463674
Winona451850
Itasca428053
McLeod420258
Morrison416260
Isanti415364
Nobles407148
Beltrami391058
Steele383915
Polk382268
Becker377950
Lyon359250
Carlton343553
Freeborn340729
Pine326222
Nicollet322743
Brown304040
Mille Lacs300352
Le Sueur288222
Todd280432
Cass269028
Meeker253740
Waseca236222
Martin229731
Roseau207519
Wabasha20473
Hubbard186341
Dodge18313
Renville178643
Redwood172636
Houston171315
Cottonwood164221
Fillmore155310
Wadena154522
Pennington153619
Chippewa151638
Faribault151119
Kanabec143224
Sibley142310
Aitkin133936
Watonwan13189
Rock127819
Jackson121811
Pipestone114726
Yellow Medicine113820
Pope10916
Murray10609
Swift104818
Stevens90211
Marshall87817
Clearwater86116
Koochiching81715
Lake80819
Wilkin80412
Lac qui Parle75022
Big Stone5984
Lincoln5773
Grant5678
Mahnomen5459
Norman5399
Unassigned48693
Kittson48422
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3213
Cook1590

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 365723

Reported Deaths: 5925
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57406622
Linn20778334
Scott19903240
Black Hawk15777308
Woodbury15105228
Johnson1444083
Dubuque13347209
Dallas1114698
Pottawattamie11082168
Story1058248
Warren575088
Clinton552792
Cerro Gordo537889
Sioux513474
Webster511493
Marshall482075
Muscatine476299
Des Moines453266
Wapello4288122
Buena Vista424240
Jasper417771
Plymouth400480
Lee374255
Marion361075
Jones297357
Henry290837
Carroll285152
Bremer283360
Crawford265840
Boone263334
Benton255455
Washington253650
Dickinson247843
Mahaska229551
Jackson221142
Kossuth215264
Clay215125
Tama209171
Delaware208740
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan190531
Cedar189223
Hardin184943
Fayette184741
Wright184236
Harrison179373
Hamilton179249
Clayton169456
Butler164634
Mills161722
Madison161419
Floyd160142
Cherokee158538
Lyon157541
Poweshiek154733
Allamakee150951
Iowa148224
Hancock147034
Winnebago141631
Cass137854
Calhoun137313
Grundy136233
Emmet134140
Jefferson132335
Shelby130537
Sac130119
Union128133
Appanoose127949
Louisa127849
Mitchell125842
Chickasaw123915
Guthrie120829
Humboldt118826
Franklin118121
Palo Alto112423
Howard104422
Montgomery103238
Clarke99824
Unassigned9770
Keokuk95531
Monroe95129
Ida90234
Adair86332
Pocahontas85322
Monona82830
Davis82524
Osceola78216
Greene77610
Lucas77123
Worth7428
Taylor65712
Fremont6229
Decatur6069
Van Buren55718
Ringgold55524
Wayne53623
Audubon50710
Adams3384
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