Unemployment Rate Hits 50-Year Low in September

The unemployment rate, or the jobless rate, dropped 0.2 percentage points to 3.5 percent in September 2019, marking the lowest rate since December 1969, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). When discouraged workers and the underemployed are factored in, the rate has still declined 0.3 percentage points to 6.9 percent, matching its lowest in almost 19 years and near the all-time low of 6.8 percent. 

While it’s a positive sign for the economy that more people are attaining jobs, wage growth still remains stagnant and nonfarm payroll increases missed estimates forecasted by economists. According to a recent BLS report, nonfarm payrolls rose by 136,000 in September, which is below the 145,000 forecast by Dow Jones economists. 

Past numbers were revised higher in both August and July. For instance, August was revised up to 168,000 from an initial estimate of 130,000, and July rose to 166,000 from 159,000, creating a net gain of 45,000. Wages growth changed little over the last month, and it has increased only 2.9 percent for the entire year, which is the lowest increase since July 2018. 

In more positive news, the unemployment rate for minorities is at record lows. The jobless rate for Hispanics, for example, hit a new record low of 3.9 percent. The jobless rate for African Americans has been maintained at 5.5 percent, the lowest level on record, and the Asian American jobless rate fell sharply to 2.5 percent. The jobless rate for men is 3.2 percent and 3.1 percent for women.

Health care led the way in job creation by adding 39,000 jobs. The professional and business services industry added 34,000 jobs, continuing its trend of adding approximately 35,000 jobs per month. The retail lost another 11,000 jobs in September. This brings the total to 197,000 jobs the retail industry has lost since January 2017.

Read the full BLS report here.

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