US jobless rate falls to 3.7%, 49-year low

Everything You Need to Know About the September Jobs Report

The U-3 unemployment rate hit a 49-year low as more than a quarter-million people left the ranks of unemployed workers.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 134 000 after a 270 000 gain the prior month that reflected a large upward revision, a Labor Department report showed Friday.

The economy has now added jobs for almost eight straight years.

"Despite billions of dollars in damages caused by Hurricane Florence, the storm should have minimal effect on payrolls, as most workers were paid during at least part of the survey period", said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

Exports of goods and services fell 0.8 percent to US$209.4 billion in August.

The unemployment rate in September fell to 3.7%, its lowest level since December 1969.

"Just out: 3.7 per cent Unemployment is the lowest number since 1969", he tweeted.

In a separate report on Thursday, the Commerce Department said new orders for US -made goods recorded their biggest increase in almost a year in August.

The Labor Department said it was possible that Hurricane Florence, which lashed South and North Carolina in mid-September, could have affected employment in some industries.

President Donald Trump's trade fights could also weigh on the economy, though the effect on hiring won't likely be felt until next year, economists say. The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours, department figures showed.

The weakness in payrolls last month is not corroborated by other labor market data.

Pay gains remain modest but are showing signs of accelerating. But the two previous months' payrolls were revised up by a total of 87,000.

Unemployment rates for African-Americans fell slightly from 6.3 percent to 6 percent.

Average hourly earnings rose 8 cents to $27.24, lowering the annual gain to 2.8 percent from a nine-year high of 2.9 percent in August.

Powell said more wage growth is "quite welcome" and the Fed isn't anxious yet about higher pay causing inflation.

Amazon's announcement this week that it would increase its minimum hourly wage to $15 for all its USA employees elevated the pressure on other employers to lift their wages as well.

For now, consumers, business executives and most economists remain optimistic. Overall government payrolls increased by 13 000.

The retail sector shed 20,000 jobs, largely from garden and building material supply stores, after having showed relatively strong growth in the first half of the year.

Manufacturing payrolls increased by 18,000 in September after rising by 5,000 in August. In August, U.S. workers saw a 2.9% wage increase from a year earlier, marking the fastest pace of growth since the recession in 2009.

While surveys have shown manufacturers growing more concerned about an escalating trade war between the United States and China, that does not appear to have affected hiring.

Washington last month slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $60bn worth of U.S. products.

And a new Trump administration tariff on $200 billion in Chinese imports - along with China's retaliation against USA imports - took effect last month, hitting many consumer goods.

The trilateral trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico was salvaged in an 11th-hour deal on Sunday.

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