Despite lower than predicted job gains, unemployment reached a 49-year low last month, according to this morning’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The monthly Employment Situation Summary showed gains to non-farm payrolls of 134,000 jobs, the lowest gains of the year. However, the unemployment rate reached 3.7 percent — the lowest rate since 1969.
“By nearly any measure, today’s labor market is the strongest since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s,” wrote Ben Casselman at The New York Times. “Job growth has repeatedly defied economists’ predictions of a slowdown. African-Americans, Latinos and members of other groups that often face discrimination are experiencing some of their lowest rates of joblessness on record.”
Where Jobs Are Growing
Several industries added jobs last month, including:
- Professional and Business Services (+54,000 jobs)
- Healthcare (+26,000 jobs)
- Transportation and Warehousing (+24,000 jobs)
- Construction (+23,000 jobs)
- Manufacturing (+18,000 jobs)
- Mining (+6,000 jobs)
Leisure and Hospitality shed 17,000 jobs for the month. Other industries remained flat, including Retail Trade, Wholesale Trade, Information, Financial Activities and Government.
Prior to the release of the report, economists surveyed by Bloomberg were predicting the addition of 185,000 jobs to public and private non-farm payrolls. The lower tally may in part be due to the effects of Hurricane Florence.
Higher Wages — But Will Workers Feel Them?
Average hourly pay increased 8 cents an hour to $27.24. Average yearly gains slowed somewhat to 2.8 percent.
The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages for employed U.S. workers, showed that wages actually declined 0.9 percent from Q1 to Q2 2018. Meanwhile, real wages — the value of workers’ pay with inflation taken into account — declined 1.8 percent last quarter.
Currently, real wages are 9.3 percent lower than they were in 2006, before the Great Recession. Workers are still waiting for wage growth to catch up with inflation and cost of living and make a real impact on their bottom line.
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