October 04, 2019
Employers added 136,000 jobs in September (compared to an average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018), the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%—its lowest level since 1969—and average weekly earnings increased well above the 1.7% inflation rate to 2.6% over last year.
Employers across a broad spectrum of industries appear to be taking a cautious approach to hiring with job gains focused in four industries accounting for over 80% of the September increase:
Most other industries were little changed except for retail trade (-11,400), which has lost 60,900 jobs over the past year.
Wage growth is moderating too. Average weekly earnings for all employees rose 2.6% in September down from the average monthly gain of 3.2% in 2018.
However, the labor market remains fairly tight as the broadest measure of underemployment fell to its lowest level (6.9%) since the dot.com bubble in 2000 and is now near its record low of 6.8%.
Looking ahead: According to the latest ManpowerGroup report, U.S. employers expect the hiring pace to remain positive in Q4 2019, with hiring intentions improving one percentage point compared to a year ago.