The Labor Department says that despite the ultra-low unemployment rate, which was down from 3.7% in August, average hourly wages slipped by a penny. Hourly pay rose just 2.9% from a year earlier, lower than 3.4% at the beginning of the year.
Hiring has slowed this year as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified, global growth has slowed, and businesses have cut back on their investment spending. Still, hiring has averaged 157,000 in the past three months, enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.
The unemployment rate for Latinos fell to 3.9%, the lowest on records dating from 1973.
With signs of a weakening economy spreading and financial markets gyrating, Friday’s monthly jobs report will be watched for any evidence that the turmoil might be threatening the critically important U.S. job market.
Economists have forecast that the government will report that employers added a modest 145,000 jobs in September and that the unemployment rate remained near a five-decade low of 3.7% for a fourth straight month.
A job gain of that level would top August’s increase of 130,000 and, if sustained, would likely be just enough to absorb new job seekers. But it would still be noticeably lower than last year’s average monthly job growth of 225,000.
With the U.S. economic expansion in its 11th year and unemployment low, many businesses have struggled to find the workers they need.