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U.S. unemployment falls to 48-year low in September

07 October 2018

As previously reported, in the European Union unemployment reached the lowest level since April 2008 - while remaining steady at 6.8 percent for the fourth month in a row. Teen unemployment fell by 0.3 percent to 12.8 percent.

The modest job gains came after private payrolls firm ADP said hiring surged 230,000 in the month, but the two reports often diverge since they calculate employment differently. The duration measures of unemployment also all showed increases in the month, with average duration increasing by 1.4 weeks to 24.0 weeks, the longest period since March.

Last, durable and nondurable goods manufacturers added 17,000 and 1,000 employees, respectively.

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Mining jobs up 6,000 over the month and by 53,000 over the year.

As for US sectors where jobs prospects dimmed, "retail" (-20,000) had the worst record in September, followed by "leisure and hospitality" (-17,000). S&P Global economist Satyam Panday noted that the three-month average for job gains was 190,000, slightly below the rate of 201,000 over the previous year.

Canada's construction employment in September shot up by +28,000 jobs, but the monthly average for this year has been "no change". The construction industry made 23,000 new hires. Employment in the sector is 7,900 below its year-ago level and 29,300 below the peak hit in October of 2016. The last time the USA saw 2 percent year-over-year growth in manufacturing jobs was April of 1995, according to Labor Department data. Gains or losses are calculated via the Current Employment Survey of 147,000 business establishments, while the unemployment rate is based on the Current Population Survey of 60,000 households.

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Average hourly earnings showed a 2.8 percent increase since September 2017, meeting Wall Street expectations. The largest increases included fabricated metal products (up 3,700), nonmetallic mineral products (up 2,700), food manufacturing (up 2,600), chemicals (up 2,400), computers and electronic products (up 2,100), furniture and related products (up 1,900) and machinery (up 1,700), among others. Often when wages increase, employers may begin to use more automation or equipment to reduce human labor requirements.

On the whole, this is a healthy report with some notable anomalies, like the fall in the percentage of unemployment due to quits and the drop in hours. The lack of acceleration in wage growth suggests that the labor market can continue to tighten further.

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