Jobless rate for Hispanic Americans matches record low

Ann Santiago
October 8, 2018

The US unemployment rate fell to a 48-year low in September even after Hurricane Florence kept many Americans away from work.

But he said the very low unemployment rate also reflected an increase in the number not looking for work, who were not classified as unemployed.

The U.S. central bank raised rates last week for the third time this year and removed the reference in its post-meeting statement to monetary policy remaining "accommodative".

Florence-related flooding and damage in North Carolina and SC was expected to influence the data, though on a smaller scale than the 2017 disruptions from hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours, today's figures show.

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

Some economists believed Hurricane Florence also may have dampened payroll gains last month.

USA stock index futures briefly turned positive after the data before reversing course. The dollar.DXY was little changed against a basket of currencies, while stocks on Wall Street were trading lower.

Unemployment rates for other individual groups of workers stayed roughly the same from last month: 3.5 percent for Asian-Americans, 4.5 percent for Hispanics, 3.3 percent for women, and 12.8 percent for teenagers.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.3% from the prior month, matching estimates, following a downwardly revised 0.3% gain, the report showed.

"We are seeing some acceleration in average hourly earnings, maybe not as much as we would expect given how tight labor markets are", said Ben Herzon, an economist for Macroeconomic Advisers. Hurricane Florence likely weighed on job growth in September 2018, just as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma weighed on job growth in September 2017. This suggests that the tax cuts that took effect this year are boosting job opportunities. "I would view this as a full-employment jobs report", Alan Krueger, a Princeton University economics professor and former head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under Barack Obama, said on Bloomberg Television. The next round of jobs data will come four days before Election Day, by which point most voters' minds may be made up.

Details across industries showed construction payrolls rose by 23 000 and manufacturing added 18 000 jobs.

Washington last month slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $60 billion worth of U.S. products. The trilateral trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico was salvaged in an 11th-hour deal on Sunday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the overall trade deficit swelling to US$53.5 billion in August.

A recent report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said that compared to other countries "a large share of the population remains at the fringes of the labour market".

"We've been dancing around hitting this unemployment record for several months".

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