- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2014

The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent last month, the lowest since mid-2008, as job growth continued its best string of monthly gains since the 1990s, the Labor Department reported Friday.

In September, businesses added 248,000 new jobs — well above the 213,000 average for the past year. And the department found they added 69,000 more jobs in the previous two months than it reported last month.

The drop in unemployment benefited every age group except teenagers, whose jobless rate rose to 20 percent from 19.6 percent. Wage gains were steady at about 2 percent a year.

 “All told, a really, really, really solid report. Good news. The recovery not only continues, it’s starting to look robust,” said Justin Wolfers, economics professor at the University of Michigan.

The futures index for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 110 points after the report, pointing to a strong opening of trading on Wall Street at 9:30 a.m.

“It’s a huge, huge, huge news day,” tweeted James Cramer, commentator on CNBC.

Mr. Wolfers noted that the number of jobs created each month and the average workweek both picked up last month, suggesting that economic momentum gathered speed in the second half of the year.

“The most striking thing in this employment report is that strong growth and low unemployment still yield no inflationary pressures,” he said, noting that average hourly earnings actually declined by a penny last month.

“With wage growth so quiet right now, it’s really an interesting question how much lower unemployment can go. Data seems to suggest a lot.”

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, called the report “good news,” boding well for the upcoming Christmas selling season.

“Clearly a solid number sets the table for a positive fourth quarter outlook. The only disappointment might be that average hourly earnings remain flat,” he said.

“Anemic wage growth continues to be the major conundrum facing markets,” said Marcus Bullus, trading director at MB Capital.

“You’d expect to see wages rising with more gusto in an improving jobs market, but this just isn’t happening. Businesses are hiring but there remains a deep-seated conservatism on the wage front.”

Still, Mr. Bullus noted that the dwindling number of discouraged workers seen in the report was a good sign.

“More people are starting to believe in the economy again and that matters a lot,” he said.

 

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