The US unemployment rate fell to 3.7% in September, the lowest rate since December 1969. Figures from the Department of Labor also showed the US economy created 134,000 jobs during the month, fewer than were expected. Significant jobs growth was seen in professional and business services, healthcare and construction. Average hourly earnings rose at an annual rate of 2.8% in September, down from 2.9% in August. Employment data for July and August were also revised to show an additional 87,000 jobs were created than first reported. The escalating trade war between the US and China does not appear to have affected hiring in factories. The data showed manufacturing jobs continuing to multiply in September, with 18,000 added, reflecting a gain in durable goods industries. In 2018 so far, manufacturing has added 278,000 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 United States and China had already imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of each other’s goods. Hurricane Florence, which battered the US East Coast in mid-September, was cited by the Labor Department as a factor for some employment changes, specifically leisure and hospitality, which lost 18,000 jobs in the period. The Labor Department said it was “impossible to quantify” the hurricane’s net effect on employment. Jobs in professional and business services rose by 54,000 in September and has increased by 560,000 over the year. Healthcare employment rose by 26,000 in September. For 2018 so far, healthcare jobs have increased by 302,000.