The historically low USA unemployment rate fell again during the month of September, but about 50,000 fewer jobs were added to the economy than experts predicted. The September gain extended an 8½-year streak of monthly job growth.
Analysts had projected the economy would create 185,000 jobs in September.
"The weaker gain in payrolls in September may partly reflect some hit from Hurricane Florence", said Michael Pearce, senior USA economist at Capital Economics in NY. The Fed raised interest rates last month as expected, but has thus far been content to move slowly.
Economists have forecast that the government will report that employers added a solid 184,000 jobs, according to the data provider FactSet, and that unemployment dipped from 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent, matching an 18-year low.
The U.S. economy is humming, unemployment is skating near a half-century low and businesses are eager - desperate, in some cases - to hire.
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Ahead of the report, Spencer Hill, an economist at Goldman Sachs, said that Hurricane Florence, which impacted the Carolinas in mid-September, were likely to weigh on Friday's headline job gains, and a 17,000 job drop in the leisure & hospitality industry shows signs of an impact from the storm. It said it was impossible to quantify the net effect on employment. So any hourly workers who weren't paid during the survey period because Florence forced their employer to close temporarily wouldn't have been counted as employed during September. The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours, department figures showed. August's jobless rate was 3.9 percent. That largely offsets the weak September showing.
Those good times, however, have not yet translated into robust pay gains for many workers. Job growth has repeatedly defied economists' predictions of a slowdown. The yield on the government's 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for mortgages and other loans, has touched its highest level in seven years. The dollar.DXY was little changed against a basket of currencies, while stocks on Wall Street were trading lower.
The unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent to 3.7 percent, the lowest number since December 1969, the Department of Labor said Friday.
People wait in line at a stand during the Executive Branch Job Fair hosted by the Conservative Partnership Institute at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2018.
Where is the wage growth?
Some economists say wage growth might be understated amid anecdotal evidence that worker shortages as a result of the tightening labor market were forcing companies to raise compensation.
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Amazon's announcement this week that it would increase its minimum hourly wage to $15 for all its USA employees elevated the pressure on other employers to lift their wages as well. Most U.S. businesses will try to absorb the higher costs themselves, at least for now, and avoid any layoffs. "The standard measures just don't reflect those increases well, if at all". A category that includes restaurants, hotels and casinos lost jobs for the first time since last September, when Hurricane Harvey had a similar effect. The next round of jobs data will come four days before Election Day, by which point most voters' minds may be made up.
Last year, the storms that hit Florida and Texas wreaked havoc on September's employment data.
Washington last month slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $60 billion worth of USA products.
And a new Trump administration tariff on $200 billion in Chinese imports - along with China's retaliation against U.S. imports - took effect last month, hitting many consumer goods. The trilateral trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico was salvaged in an 11th-hour deal on Sunday. Consumer prices, for example, rose 2.7 percent in August from 12 months earlier.
The politically sensitive goods trade deficit with China increased 4.7 percent to a record high of $38.6 billion.
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Of the more than 1,500 people who were killed in the catastrophe, the vast majority hailed from the city of almost 300,000. The national disaster agency says 1,700 homes in one neighbourhood alone were swallowed up and hundreds of people killed.