February 24, 2020

U.S. Added 136,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Rate at 3.5%

President Trump has repeatedly placed the manufacturing sector at the center of his economic strategy. Nonetheless, that sector is suffering the most from prolonged trade tensions. Companies in the business of making goods — as opposed to those that deliver services, like hospitals and restaurants — are much more dependent on sales to other countries and supply chains that wend around the globe.

Last spring, manufacturers were adding as many as 25,000 jobs a month. In recent months, the average had been closer to 3,000.

News this week that manufacturing activity in the United States fell for the second month in a row set off a stock-market tumble.

With 11.6 million workers, the sector accounts for about 11 percent of the country’s output, but it tends to loom larger in policy debates. Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, noted that a key measure of manufacturing activity reflected in a survey by the Institute for Supply Management “has a better track record of being a leading indicator of downturns, so I do think there is something to the hold that it has on confidence.”

A decline in manufacturing hires is likely to fuel anxieties about the economy.

Mr. Powell’s pride in the labor market’s performance is well grounded. The jobless rate has skimmed along near half-century lows. Sidelined workers have been lured from living rooms and classrooms back into the workplace. New applications for unemployment insurance have not risen noticeably in recent months.

“One of the best stories about labor market in the last two years is that the job market has done so well, it is now reaching into further corners and providing opportunities to those who had not enjoyed them,” Mr. Tannenbaum said. “This is the way the economy is supposed to work.”

The tight labor market as well as minimum wage increases in several states and cities have helped bulk up paychecks for workers at the lowest end of the salary spectrum. And it means that when some workers, say, in retail lose a job, they have an easier time finding another.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/business/economy/jobs-report.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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