USA unemployment falls to lowest rate in 48 years despite Hurricane Florence

A bilingual help wanted sign for Auto Zone a retailer of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories is posted outside the store in Canton Miss. Thursday Sept. 27 2018. The central Mississippi city has a growing Spanish-speaking population and some

Economists have forecast that growth reached a 3 percent to 3.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter.

Unemployment fell to a 48-year-low of 3.7 percent last month from 3.9 percent, an unusually large drop, according to the Labor Department's closely-watched monthly jobs report.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added a total of 134,000 jobs last month.

The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.7 percent in September, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 270,000 to 6.0 million. It also represented a milestone in the remarkable rebound that followed: eight straight years of monthly job growth, double the previous record. Bond yields spiked following the jobs report, with the benchmark 10-Year Treasury hitting 3.24 percent - its highest level in more than seven years.

This is the lowest unemployment rate since 1969.

In addition, the GDP grew an estimated 4.2 percent in the second quarter, claims of unemployment insurance are the lowest since the 1960s, middle-class income is highest on record (adjusted for inflation), and small business optimism has hit one record after another since Trump's election.

By almost any measure, today's labor market is the strongest since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Yet those wage gains understate the real improvement in workers' paychecks, contends Peter Boockvar, chief strategist at Bleakley Advisory Group.

"We are seeing some acceleration in average hourly earnings, maybe not as much as we would expect given how tight labor markets are", said Ben Herzon, an economist for Macroeconomic Advisers.

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Some economists believed Hurricane Florence also may have dampened payroll gains last month.

Most analysts blamed the slower pace of hiring last month on Florence, which struck North and SC and closed thousands of businesses.

The labor market, the Fed said, "has continued to strengthen and. economic activity has been rising at a strong rate".

Friday's jobs report will probably keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise short-term interest rates, economists said, with another increase expected in December.

"Employers are finding it harder to recruit and having to pay more when they do", Mr Robbins said.

One of the main factors in the dip in the vacancies was likely to be Hurricane Florence, which struck North and SC at the beginning of September, closing thousands of businesses.

"The markets could give this a little bit of a pass cause it's not clear what impact the hurricane had at the moment". Online retail giant Amazon announced this week that it would raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour for US employees starting in November.

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. However, Hurricane Florence barely left a mark on the data for September.

Numerous dislocated people will probably return to work. Many of those jobs are likely to bounce back in the coming months. Economists have said any weather-related volatility in the data may be short-lived, similar to the pattern around past storms. But retailers cut 20,000 jobs.

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