Unemployment Rate Hits Lowest Level Since 1969 in September

October 5, 2018

The latest jobs numbers are out from the federal government. What do they mean for job seekers and employers? Here’s a quick take from Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain:

This morning’s jobs report marked a new milestone for the U.S. economy: The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September, the lowest rate in more than 40 years. The last time unemployment reached today’s low was in December 1969 — another sign of today’s robust economy, soaring on the heels of a $1.5 trillion tax cut and nine years into an economic expansion.

Overall, the economy added 134,000 new jobs to payrolls in September. That’s slightly below the pace expected by most economists, but still a solid month for job growth. Today’s report also dramatically revised upward job gains in August and July, underscoring the continued strength of hiring today. Some of the weaker-than-expected job gains in September may be due to temporary impacts from Hurricane Florence — we’ll be watching for a likely small upward revision in coming months.  

In terms of pay, average hourly wages were up 2.8 percent from a year ago in September. That’s down slightly from the 2.9 percent pace last month, but consistent with a steady upward trend in wage growth we’ve seen as the job market tightens and more employers face labor shortages. We expect to see that pace continue to rise throughout the holiday season, likely topping 3.0 percent within the next half year. In Glassdoor’s September Local Pay Reports we’ve seen steadily rising pay growth and recorded the fastest pace in 17 months, led by strong wage growth in tech-heavy metros including San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

The sector adding the most jobs last month was professional and business services (which includes many tech jobs) adding 54,000 jobs to payrolls. Other industries with strong job gains included healthcare (+29,800 jobs), transportation and warehousing (which reflects strong growth in e-commerce) (+23,800 jobs), construction (+23,000 jobs), and manufacturing (+18,000 jobs). The sectors with the weakest job gains in September include retail (-20,000 jobs), leisure and hospitality (-17,000 jobs) and motor vehicles and parts manufacturing (-400 jobs).

Today’s jobs report marks 96 consecutive months of positive job gains for the nation’s roaring economy. Today’s economic expansion has now been stretching out for 111 months. If the economy can continue to march forward for another nine months, we’ll tie the all-time record for longest economic expansion in U.S. history since the 1850s of 120 months (a record set originally in the 1990s). With good news in most economic indicators today, it’s likely the economy will continue its march forward through the remainder of 2018.

To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain about today’s jobs report or to discuss labor market trends, contact pr at Glassdoor dot com. For the latest economics and labor market updates, follow @adchamberlain on Twitter and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.