What the 50-Year Record Unemployment Headlines Didn’t Tell You

What the 50-Year Record Unemployment Headlines Didn’t Tell You

What the 50-Year Record Unemployment Headlines Didn’t Tell You

The average hourly wage in the U.S. last month increased by 0.3% compared to August and by 2.8% for the year, both indicators have coincided with market expectations. This has been the Achilles heel of the recovery and the unmet promise of tax reform, so August is promising. Fortunately, most of the numbers are still looking quite positive for the economy and for the labor market in general. Downward revisions in jobs for June and July brought the three-month average to 185,000 per month. This is the sixth straight month the unemployment rate has been at or below four percent, also the best in a half century. and unemployment rates continue to hover near record lows.

In September, the labor force participation rate remained at 62.7 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.4 percent, was little changed. Across education levels, unemployment rose by 0.6 percent for those with less than a high school education and by 0.3 percent for those with partial education. Teen unemployment fell by 0.3 percent to 12.8 percent.

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It's easy to get excited about unemployment and the economy when you hear that unemployment is at the lowest level since 1969, the economy is booming and wages are growing.

Friday's job report confirmed a strengthening job market. This is the longest period of job growth in history. This probably won't be the month to learn that lesson, however.

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Two surveys provide data for each monthly BLS jobs report. Over 200,000 jobs were added, and earnings growth topped 2.9 percent for the first time since May of 2009. Job growth was particularly good in durables manufacturing, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that the U.S. trade deficit widened in August, reflecting an increase in imports and a decrease in exports. The unemployment rate for workers with less than a high school degree or just a high school degree fell by 0.2 percentage points, while the unemployment rate for workers with some college fell by 0.3 percentage points.

There is, as ever, policy and other economic risk. Home health added 2,200 jobs, 72% fewer than the month before.

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Ontario (+36,000) and B.C. (+33,000) accounted for all the nation's jobs rise in the latest month. Regardless, those risks are unlikely to be reflected to any great degree in this morning's report.

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