U.S. unemployment hits 50-year low

Love him or hate him, fact remains that Trump keeps delivering on his promises. The U.S. economy created 136,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent. The last time the rate was this low was in December 1969, when it also was 3.5 percent.

Economists had expected the economy to between 120,000 and 179,000 with the consensus number at 145,000, according to Econoday. Unemployment was expected to remain unchanged at last month’s 3.7 percent.

The jobs data for the two previous months were also revised upward, indicating that the labor market was stronger over the summer than previously indicated. Employment for July was revised up by 7,000 from 159,000 to 166,000, and August was revised up by 38,000 from 130,000 to 168,000. With these revisions, employment gains in July and August combined were 45,000 more than previously reported.

The stronger numbers for July and August may also explain the slightly-below expectations figure for September since some of the growth in employment forecast for last month had already occurred.

Economic data has been intensely scrutinized this week for signs of economic sluggishness after the Institute for Supply Management’s survey of manufacturing companies suggested the manufacturing sector had unexpectedly contracted for a second consecutive month.

With manufacturing activity weak, the bulk of the hiring in September was concentrated in the services sector. Education and health care providers filled 40,000 positions.

Similarly, data on private payrolls and unemployment claims suggested that the U.S. economy had cooled but was not near a recession.

Government added 22,000 workers in September, but only 1,000 of the jobs were due to federal hiring for the 2020 Census. Economists had expected a bigger increase in census workers.

September’s hiring may have been weighed down by the strike by General Motors workers, which has sidelined GM plants and likely prevented GM suppliers from hiring new workers. The latest data suggests that manufacturing held its job count near steady, shedding just 2,000 jobs during the month.

The resilience seen in the September job report will raise hopes that the economy can avoid a recession. Although manufacturing activity and business investment have been weak, consumer spending has held up well.

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