Unemployment rate falls to its lowest level in 50 years

U.S. companies added 136,000 jobs last month.

October 4, 2019, 2:30 PM

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in 50 years and 136,000 jobs were added in September, the Department of Labor said Friday.

The unemployment rate, now at 3.5%, fell by .2% since August. Some experts say this should help quell fears of an upcoming recession.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, speaking at a Fed Listens event in Washington, D.C., on Friday, said the “overall” the economy is “in a good place” and "our job is to keep it there as long as possible.”

“Unemployment is near a half-century low and inflation is running close to, but a bit below, our 2 percent objective,” Powell said.

PHOTO: In this Sept. 17, 2019, photo job seekers line up to speak to recruiters during an Amazon job fair in Dallas.
In this Sept. 17, 2019, photo job seekers line up to speak to recruiters during an Amazon job fair in Dallas.
Lm Otero/AP, FILE


The last time the unemployment rate was this low was in December 1969, according to the government agency.

Jobs in health care as well as professional and business services led the way in September.

The health care industry added 39,000 jobs, according to the data. Professional and businesses services saw an increase of 34,000 jobs in September. The government hired 22,000 workers in September.

Meanwhile, retail industry jobs fell. Clothing and clothing accessory stores lost 14,000 jobs in September.

Ryan Nunn, the policy director at the Hamilton Project, said "we are back to zero" on the Sahm Indicator, which measures quick unemployment rate changes at the national level and is often used as a "pretty good diagnostic for a recession."

"That's a relatively low level for the indicator. It's not giving us any evidence that a recession is underway," he told ABC News.

"On the more pessimistic note, we saw a leveling off of hourly wages. That's something that we need to track going forward to see if that continues," he added.

The national employment rate can be affected by workers leaving their jobs. But the data in this report indicated "a shift from unemployment to employment," Nunn noted, adding that this is "a good reason to see the unemployment rate fall."

Nunn said the biggest takeaways for everyday Americans is that having a tight labor market could lead to more job opportunities and wage growth.

"So we should all root for the labor market to continue to tighten and to avoid a recession as much as possible," he added.

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