Unemployment Rate Dips Below 4.0%

Just when recent employment numbers appear to be solidifying thoughts of an economic slowdown, the economy throws a curveball to the analysts. For only the second time in 30 years -- the first being this past April -- the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% in September, falling from 4.1% in August. Keeping the eco

Just when recent employment numbers appear to be solidifying thoughts of an economic slowdown, the economy throws a curveball to the analysts. For only the second time in 30 years -- the first being this past April -- the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% in September, falling from 4.1% in August. Keeping the economists aggressive at the plate, however, was a 0.2% decline in average hourly earnings.

According to the Labor Department's September 2000 Employment Report, total nonfarm payroll increased by 252,000. Economists were expecting a similar gain. Excluding striking Verizon workers and the release of additional census workers, nonfarm payroll gained 204,000 jobs. Some highlights from the report are listed below:

  • Construction employment rose 30,000, following little gains the past three months.
  • New jobs in supply services and engineering and management services helped the services industry gain 200,000 jobs.
  • Transportation and public utilities employment increased by 105,000, due in large part to the returning Verizon employees (87,000).

The manufacturing industry followed a revised 119,000 decline in August with another 66,000 job losses in September. Decreases occurred in both durable and nondurable goods manufacturing, while electronic components continued to shine. Details are below.

  • Industrial machinery and equipment fell 9,000.
  • Employment fell 9,000 in apparel.
  • Rubber and miscellaneous plastics lost 8,000 jobs.
  • Fabricated metal products endured a 6,000 decline.
  • Electronic components added 4,000 jobs, upping its total since April 1999 to 46,000.

At a Glance: Hours and Earnings

  • The manufacturing workweek fell 0.1 hour to 41.2 hours, while overtime declined another 0.1 hour to 4.4 hours.
  • Average hourly earnings rose 3 cents to $13.83, following a 4-cent gain in August.
  • Average weekly earnings increased by 0.5% to $475.75.
  • Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings and weekly earnings have increased by 3.6% and 3.3%, respectively.

The report on October employment report will be released on November 3, 2000.

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