United States unemployment rate falls to lowest level since 1969

Workers at a construction site in Revere

Pat Greenhouse Globe Staff Workers at a construction site in Revere

Wages have grown 2.8 percent over the previous year, down from last month's estimate of 2.9 percent. These are the pocketbook issues that actually make a difference in the lives of voters. This suggests that the tax cuts that took effect this year are boosting job opportunities. Average hourly earnings climbed 2.8% from a year earlier, matching projections, while the jobless rate fell more than projected to 3.7%, the lowest since 1969.

The low unemployment rate provided more evidence of a booming economy, which is now in a record eight-year streak of job gains. The unemployment rate is close to a two-decade low.

But with unemployment at levels not seen since Richard Nixon was in the White House, the September report was also sure strengthen the case for the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates. Surveys show that views of the economy are split along partisan lines, with Democrats and even many independents expressing less optimism than Republicans.

"No-one at the Fed thinks unemployment near three percent is sustainable", Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a client note.

Amy Glaser, a senior vice president at staffing agency Adecco, told The New York Times after Friday's jobs report release that some seasonal employers are moving up their hiring timelines, easing job requirements and giving workers more flexibility over schedules to attract more applicants.

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

"Businesses of all sizes are indicating they are doing whatever they can to keep their workers", said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

A separate measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding jobs part-time for economic reasons - sometimes called the "real unemployment rate" - edged higher to 7.5 percent. "The standard measures just don't reflect those increases well, if at all".

Among those worst affected were restaurants, hotels and casinos, which saw jobs lost for the first time since September 2017, when Hurricane Harvey hit.

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Education and health services booked a net gain of 18,000 jobs, while health care and social assistance gained 29,800 new jobs.

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.

In fact, the Fed's latest survey of national business conditions reflected concerns about labor shortages that are extending into non-skilled occupations as much as about tariffs. According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 185,000 in September after surging 201,000 in August.

Manufacturers expanded their payrolls by 18,000.

Despite the Trump administration's protectionist trade policy, the trade deficit continues to deteriorate. Orders increased 8.6% on a Y-Y basis in August.

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The unemployment rate for those with a high school degree and no college attendance hit 3.7 per cent, the lowest since April 2001. Over the course of this year, recruiters have been more open to job candidates they may before have overlooked, such as those with criminal histories.

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