USA jobless rate at lowest since 1969

Workers at a construction site in Revere

Pat Greenhouse Globe Staff Workers at a construction site in Revere

Wage growth slowed last month, with average hourly earnings up 2.8 percent from a year earlier.

That storm struck North and SC in mid-September and closed thousands of businesses.

Fed-funds futures, used by traders towager on the central bank's rate moves and up sharply from last month, showed Thursday that the market is pricing in a 38% chance of the Fed lifiting rates three times between now and June 2019 compared with 16.3% a month ago, according to CME Group.

Still, if the prime-age workers increasingly enter the job market, their numbers could expand the workforce a bit and help accelerate economic growth. If more people start looking - and don't immediately find a job - the government will count them as unemployed. In the last 12 months wages increased 2.8%.

The ultra-low jobless rate - the best in almost 49 years - reflects a healthy economy driven by strong consumer and business spending. But the two previous months' payrolls were revised up by a total of 87,000. The average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours. This is the sixth straight month the unemployment rate has been at or below four percent, also the best in a half century.

Pay gains remain modest but are showing signs of accelerating. Bond yields rise when prices fall, and they spiked Wednesday to their highest level in over seven years after a strong private-payroll report from ADP and bullish comments from the Federal Reserve's chairman, Jerome Powell.

The Economic Survey of 2016-17 showed the increase in the unemployment rate in the country from 4.9% in 2013-14 to 5%, with a decline of about 20,000 jobs by 2016.

SC shooting suspect identified
Condolences and outpourings of support rolled in at news of the shooting. "This is simply devastating news from Florence", Gov. A Vietnam veteran is in custody Thursday after allegedly gunning down seven police officers in SC during a two-hour shootout.

Average hourly earnings increased eight cents, or 0.3 percent, in September after rising 0.3 percent in the prior month.

By industry, the strongest wage growth is in the low-paying restaurant sector, which has seen a 4.3 percent increase in the average hourly wage for production and nonsupervisory workers over the past year. As more slack is squeezed out of the labor market, economists expect annual wage growth to hit 3 percent.

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. Manufacturers expanded their payrolls by 18,000. 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.

The trade gap continues to widen despite the Trump administration's "America First" policies, which have led to a bitter trade war between the United States and China.

In fact, the Fed's latest survey of national business conditions reflected concerns about labour shortages that are extending into non-skilled occupations as much as about tariffs. Both drops could have been affected by the hurricane, which likely disrupted hiring in these high turnover sectors.

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

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

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