Unemployment rate falls to 3.7 percent, lowest mark since 1969

Everything You Need to Know About the September Jobs Report

Newly released data by the Labor Department shows that United States employers added 134,000 jobs last month with hiring increases within construction, manufacturing and health care sectors.

Professional and business services, which includes a variety of industries, had the most new hires last month with job gains of 54,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for an increase of 185 000 jobs.

The unemployment rate for September dropped two-tenths of a point from August to 3.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Labor Department's closely watched monthly employment report today also showed a steady rise in wages, suggesting moderate inflation pressures.

The smaller survey of households from which the jobless rate is derived regards persons as employed regardless of whether they missed work during the reference week and were unpaid as result.

USA financial markets were little moved by the report.

The September jobs report was either noteworthy or disappointing, depending on how you look at it.

The Fed's rate increases might be starting to bite. The Labor Department said claims for North and SC continued to be affected by the storm.

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Manufacturing payrolls increased by 18,000 in September after rising by 5,000 in August. That reversed the bulk of the increase from the prior week when claims were boosted by Hurricane Florence, which slammed North and SC in mid-September. The data beat expectations as economists forecasted a drop to 3.8%. That means the jobs report data may not give an accurate picture of the health of the labor market for some time. Job growth was a bit softer in September, but some of that was from Hurricane Florence, and it should bounce back through the rest of 2018 and into 2019.

Yet those wage gains understate the real improvement in workers' paychecks, contends Peter Boockvar, chief strategist at Bleakley Advisory Group. Weather-related absences and curtailments also took a toll on the tally of aggregate hours worked.

An Institute for Supply Management survey of manufacturers published on Tuesday showed factory activity retreated from a 14-year high in September.

The ultra-low jobless rate — the best in almost 49 years — reflects a healthy economy driven by strong consumer and business spending. Smoothing out the revisions and monthly perturbations, the three-month average payroll gain is a sturdy 190,000, while the 12-month average increase is 211,000.

The economy does show some weak spots.

From the low point in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the number with jobs has increased by nearly 20 million.

Geography, the skills gap, the opioid epidemic, more people going to college and a lack of family leave policies aimed at encouraging women to enter the labor force could all be contributing to the low rate. That compares with 23 000 in August, though the September 2017 count of 1.47 million - following hurricanes Harvey and Irma - was the highest since 1996. Overall government payrolls increased by 13 000.

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