US Unemployment Rate Drops To 3.7 Percent, Lowest Rate Since 1969

Kenny Grant
October 8, 2018

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September 2018.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.4 million over the month; these individuals accounted for 22.9 percent of the unemployed. The very low unemployment rate reflects an increase in the number not looking for work. The combination of wages and jobs means that overall payrolls rose by 0.5 percent in August - a good foundation for future growth. Friday's figures show US imports of automobiles, vehicle parts and engines totaled $31.7 billion, the highest on record. Numerous newly created jobs have been taken by independent contractors or on short-term assignments ("gig economy.") Such forms of employment are not secure, and recent analysis by Harvard University's Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger of Princeton University, reported by Bloomberg, indicates that the USA labor market is becoming more precarious.

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The US economy is growing rapidly now, and it is expected this trend will continue in the coming quarters, meaning that the demand for workers should not slow down.

Some companies are starting to boost wages - Amazon.com Inc. being among the latest to pledge raises - to attract or retain workers. A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that the United States trade deficit widened in August, reflecting an increase in imports and a decrease in exports. Under Trump, the monthly average over the 20 months of his term has been 190,000. Hiring data may show storm-related swings for October too, economists said. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. "It's going to reinforce the Fed's path for raising rates". Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 per cent from the previous month. Then, thanks to an Obama-initiated economic stimulus that some Democrats labeled necessary but inadequate, and 90 percent of Republicans flat-out opposed, the number of available jobs grew steadily, albeit with excruciating slowness over the next six years. The combination of gains in employment and moderate increases in wages is lifting disposable incomes. Employers likely added 185,000 nonfarm payrolls on net while the unemployment rate returned to an 18-year low of 3.8%, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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