U.S. jobless rate falls to lowest level in nearly five decades at 3.7%

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 108 views 

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since former President Richard Nixon was in office as thousands of new workers continue to enter the workforce and job-hoppers seek upward mobility, the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday (Oct. 5).

According to BLS data, the U.S. jobless rate declined to 0.2 percentage points to 3.7% between August and September, below Wall Street expectations of 3.8%. September’s employment picture is the lowest jobless rate since December 1969, also eclipsing the earlier 12-month standard of 3.8% that was touched in May, a 20-year low.

Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 0.5 percentage point and 795,000, respectively. For the month, a total of 134,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were added to the booming U.S. job marketplace, which is well below the monthly average of 196,000 new positions added over the previous 12 months.

The nation’s unemployment standard is now only one-tenth of a percentage point off Arkansas’ jobless rate. Two weeks ago, the state Department of Workforce Services reported that are Arkansas’ unemployment rate had tumbled to 3.6%, a result of a positive trend of 1,419 fewer unemployed and 274 more employed Arkansans.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said: “The job market continues to power forward. Employment gains are broad-based across industries and company sizes. At the current pace of job creation, unemployment will fall into the low 3%’s by this time next year.”

Among the major worker groups, the jobless rates for adult women and Whites fell to 3.3%, while the jobless rate for adult men (3.4%) teenagers (12.8%), Blacks (6%), Asians (3.5%), and Hispanics (457%) showed little or no change in August. The labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio saw little changes at  62.7% and 60.4%, respectively.

Among the unemployed, the number of reentrants to the labor force in September rose to 1.87 million, compared to 1.85 million in the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed, or those jobless for 27 weeks or more, was essentially unchanged at 1.4 million in September and accounted for 22.9% of the unemployed.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons rose by 263,000 to 4.6 million for the month. There were 1.6 million marginally attached workers in the U.S. labor force, little different from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, but wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the past year.

Among the 134,000 job additions in September, professional and business services added 54,000 jobs between months and 560,000 jobs over the year. Health care employment, which has added 302,000 jobs over the past 12 months, rose by 26,000 in September with job gains mostly in ambulatory health care services.

There was also noticeable uptick of new blue collar jobs In September. For the month, employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 24,000 as job gains occurred in warehousing and storage and in couriers and messengers. Over the year, employment in this sector has increased by 174,000.

Construction employment also continued to trend up in September with 23,000 job adds The industry has added 315,000 jobs over the past 12 months, despite the sector’s highly publicized in filling new positions in some U.S. markets.

Employment in manufacturing continued to trend up in September with a gains of 18,000 positions, mostly reflecting hiring in the durable goods industries. Over the year, manufacturing has added 278,000 jobs, with about four-fifths of the gain at factories that produced so-called soft goods that have a short shelf life.

The mining sector, which includes the oil and gas sector, also continues to rise in tandem with higher international energy prices. This sector has rose by 6,000 over the month and by 53,000 over the year. Employment in leisure and hospitality was down by 17,000 over the month. Prior to September, employment in the sector had been on a modest upward trend, but some of the weakness may reflect the impact of Hurricane Florence, BLS officials said.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged 34.5 hours in September. In manufacturing, the workweek edged downward 0.1 hours after the summer months to 40.8 hours and 3.4 hours of overtime. The average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by eight cents to $27.24. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 73 cents, or 2.8%.

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