Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in September

The American economy gained 136,000 jobs last month. We need 90,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth, which means that net job growth clocked in at a sluggish but decent 46,000 jobs. The headline unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent, the lowest rate in half a century.

The numbers below the surface were decent too. Employment was up, unemployment was down, and only a small number of people dropped out of the labor force—probably accounted for by older folks retiring. The labor participation rate stayed steady.

At the same time, as you can see, the trend line recently has been steadily downward for the past year or so. If this continues at its current rate, we’ll hit zero net job growth in the first quarter of 2020.

Blue-collar wages grew just slightly faster than inflation. There’s still a little bit of wage pressure in the economy, but it’s fading away.

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