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US Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest in Nearly Five Decades
U.S. job growth slowed sharply in September likely as Hurricane Florence depressed restaurant and retail payrolls, but the unemployment rate fell to near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, pointing to a further tightening in labor market conditions.
The Labor Department's closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed a steady rise in wages, suggesting moderate inflation pressures, which could ease concerns about the economy overheating and keep the Federal Reserve on a path of gradual interest rate increases.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 134,000 jobs last month, the fewest in a year, as the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors shed employment.
The economy needs to create roughly 120,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that the economy's outlook was "remarkably positive" and he believed it was on the cusp of a "historically rare" era of ultra-low unemployment and tame inflation.
The U.S. central bank raised rates last week for the third time this year and removed the reference in its post-meeting statement to monetary policy remaining "accommodative."
The Labor Department said it was possible that Hurricane Florence, which lashed South and North Carolina in mid-September, could have affected employment in some industries. It said it was impossible to quantify the net effect on employment.