Labor Market Chugs Along

Economic Blog
October 04, 2019

The U.S. labor market keeps chugging along, despite signs of weakness in other pockets of the U.S. economy.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 136,000 in September, and July and August payrolls growth were revised up by 45,000. The 12-month average payrolls change climbed to 179,000 including Friday’s data, still slightly higher than the expansion average.

Overall, the September jobs report showed hiring has been steady, defying recent worries of economic weakness after surprisingly weak manufacturing and services surveys were released earlier this week. Other labor-market measures also look healthy. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in September, a new cycle low, and initial jobless claims are still subdued.

Wage growth slowed notably last month, though, hinting that inflationary pressures could be moderating. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, average hourly earnings growth fell to 2.9% year over year, the slowest pace since July 2018.

wage-growth-slips_1

Slowing average hourly earnings growth could point to a cooling job market. However, average hourly earnings growth for production and nonsupervisory workers increased 3.5% year over year, indicating there could be temporary influences weighing down the overall wage measure. At any rate, 2.9% wage growth is still enough to buoy personal incomes and consumer spending while keeping interest rates at bay.

“Even though hiring has slowed slightly this year, it still looks healthy for the 10th year of this economic expansion,” said LPL Financial Chief Investment Strategist John Lynch. “Wages are growing near a 3% clip, and we still see evidence that domestic inflation is subdued enough to support an accommodative Federal Reserve.”

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