The national economy added 136,000 jobs in September, and figures for July and August were revised upward by 45,000 jobs, sending the unemployment rate to 3.5 percent, matching a level last seen in December 1969. An increase in government jobs continues to help swell employment figures, resulting in the 108th consecutive month of job growth.
Florida’s unemployment rate is at 3.3 percent, and Flagler County’s at 4.1 percent.
But the economy is not quite functioning at the same level it had been in recent years: in the first nine months of 2019, it has averaged a net gain of 161,000 jobs a month, compared to an average of 223,000 jobs a month in 2018, when the economy was benefiting from the 2017 tax cuts. And after several months of gains that had finally surpassed inflation for wage-earners, average wages lost a cent in September after rising 11 cents in August. Average hourly earnings fell to $28.09 for all private-sector employees.
But there are still more job postings than there are job seekers: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 7.2 million job postings. There were 5.8 million unemployed Americans. And the alternative unemployment rate, which accounts for those who have dropped out of the labor force and those who are working part time because they could not find full-time work, or because their hours were cut back against their will, fell to 6.9 percent, from 7.2 percent in August. There were 4.4 million people working part-time for economic, rather than voluntary, reasons.
The global economy has been slowing and the Trump administration’s trade war with China has been taking a toll, with world trade expected to grow by an anemic 1.2 percent this year, the weakest year since 2009. Six months ago, the World Trade Organization had predicted growth of 2.6 percent.
There are some signs of weakness in the retail sector, usually a bellwether of economic strength as it reflects consumers’ purchasing trends, though retail has also been battered by growth in online sales. Retail lost 11,000 jobs in September, continuing a losing streak that began in January 2017. Since then, retail has shed 197,000 jobs.
Government jobs grew by 22,000, though this time hiring for the coming Census had little to do with it. Federal payrolls increased by just 1,000. The rest were in state and local government payrolls. Health care added 39,000 jobs, professional and business services added 34,000, and transportation and warehousing added 16,000. The full jobs report is below.