Labor Department: US unemployment rate falls to 49-year low of 3.7 percent

7 months 1 week 6 days ago Friday, October 05 2018 Oct 5, 2018 Friday, October 05, 2018 10:29:00 AM CDT October 05, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September — the lowest level since December 1969 — signaling how the longest streak of hiring on record has put millions of Americans back to work.

Employers added just 134,000 jobs last month, the fewest in a year, the Labor Department said Friday. But that figure was likely depressed by the impact of Hurricane Florence.

That storm struck North and South Carolina in mid-September and closed thousands of businesses. A category that includes restaurants, hotels and casinos lost jobs for the first time since last September, when Hurricane Harvey exerted a similar effect.

In recent months, though, healthy consumer and business spending has been fueling brisk economic growth and emboldening employers to continue hiring. Americans are confident about the economic outlook, buoyed by the job gains and signs of higher pay. The September gain extended an 8½-year streak of monthly job growth.

What's more, the government on Friday revised sharply up its estimate of hiring for July and August by 87,000 jobs. So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 208,000, up from a pace of 182,000 for all of 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.

Average hourly pay rose 2.8 percent from a year earlier, a moderate gain and one tick below the year-over-year increase in August. Many economists expect pay growth to accelerate in coming months. With unemployment so low, companies are facing intense pressure to raise pay to land workers. Amazon responded this week by raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Financial markets were down sharply in late-morning trading. Investors have grown concerned about higher interest rates and the impact they might have on the economy and the stock market.

Friday's jobs report will likely keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise short-term interest rates, economists said, with another rate hike expected at its meeting in December.

The Fed's hikes might be starting to bite. Borrowing costs for businesses and consumers are rising. Pointing to the economy's health, the Fed last week raised its benchmark short-term rate and predicted that it would continue to tighten credit into 2020 to manage growth and inflation. Over time, higher borrowing costs make auto loans, mortgages and corporate debt more expensive and can eventually slow the economy.

Anticipating stronger growth — and perhaps higher inflation — investors have dumped bonds and forced up their yields. The yield on the government's 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for mortgages and other loans, has touched its highest level in seven years.

For now, consumers, business executives and most economists remain optimistic. Measures of consumer confidence are at or near their highest levels in 18 years. Retailers have begun scrambling to hire enough workers for what's expected to be a robust holiday shopping season. A survey of service-sector firms this week, including banks, hotels and health care providers, found that they are expanding at their fastest pace in a decade.

Americans have continued spending steadily and appear to be in generally stable financial shape. Households are saving nearly 7 percent of their incomes — more than twice the savings rate before the recession. That trend suggests that a brighter economic outlook hasn't caused consumers to recklessly build up unsustainable debt.

During the April-June quarter, the U.S. economy expanded at a 4.2 percent annual rate, the best in four years. Economists have forecast that growth reached a 3 percent to 3.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter.

The economy does show some weak spots. Sales of existing homes have fallen over the past year. Increasingly expensive houses, higher mortgage rates and a shortage of properties for sale are slowing purchases. Auto sales have also slumped.

President Donald Trump's trade fights could also weigh on the economy, though the effect on hiring won't likely be felt until next year, economists say. The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum as well as on roughly half of China's imports to the United Sates. Most U.S. businesses will try to absorb the higher costs themselves, at least for now, economists say, and avoid layoffs.

Still, should the tariffs remain fully in effect a year from now, roughly 300,000 jobs could be lost by then, according to estimates by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

Manufacturers, which are more dependent on foreign markets than other industries, added 18,000 jobs last month, a sign that the trade fight so far is having little effect on hiring.

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY - A new statue will be unveiled on Monday in Jefferson City. The ‘Immigrants Arriving” statue is meant... More >>
45 minutes ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 8:54:00 AM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - House Bill 677 has made it all the way to Gov. Parson's desk and is awaiting his... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 1:14:00 AM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia woman said her mom woke up early Saturday morning to find a man lying naked beside... More >>
10 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 11:28:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Columbia to Denver were offered thousands of dollars worth of vouchers... More >>
10 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 11:12:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The debate over Missouri's abortion bill came to MU on Saturday. Protestors were dressed in white bonnets... More >>
13 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 8:15:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Following the release of the Mueller report, Missouri election officials say keeping the state's elections secure is a... More >>
15 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 6:05:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is seeking the public's help in identifying a man found naked in two homes.... More >>
17 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 4:20:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Orr Street Farmers and Artisans Market is now open every Sunday from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m.... More >>
19 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 1:42:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in Continuous News
MOBERLY - A woman was arrested in Moberly Saturday night after a report of a shoplifting at Gordman's department store.... More >>
21 hours ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 12:17:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - Avengers super-fan Jace Aitkens needs a new kidney. His mom, Kayla Aitkens, said it all started when... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 7:55:00 AM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The 2018-2019 school year is wrapping up for students in Columbia, but they're still learning important skills. ... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 6:00:00 AM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Strong storms pummeled mid-Missouri Saturday evening, leaving lots of damage in their wake. A Facebook User sent... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 8:54:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
KINGDOM CITY - High winds blew a tractor-trailer off the road at the intersection of Highway 54 and I-70 Saturday... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 7:48:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - People who suffer from chronic pain can now turn to alternative treatments besides opioids. Dr. Amanda Alcamo... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 7:00:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Thousands of customers throughout mid-Missouri lost power Saturday, according to the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. The... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 5:53:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Abortion Bill has passed in the House and Senate.  Saturday, mid-Missourians gathered outside of Columbia... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 18 2019 May 18, 2019 Saturday, May 18, 2019 2:18:00 PM CDT May 18, 2019 in News
ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Blues rebounded from a tough Game 3 loss and took Game 4 of the... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 10:45:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in Sports
MONITEAU COUNTY - Three people are in custody after they reportedly tried to run away from law enforcement Friday. ... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 9:02:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 57°
10am 55°
11am 58°
12pm 60°
1pm 62°