American Politics

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Job creation for September fell to its lowest level in a year though the unemployment rate dropped to a point not seen in nearly 50 years, according to Labor Department figures released Friday.

Nonfarm payrolls rose just 134,000, well below Refinitiv estimates of 185,000 and the worst performance since last September, when a labor strike weighed on the numbers. The unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 3.7 percent, the lowest level since December 1969 and one-tenth of a percentage point below expectations.

A separate measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding jobs part-time for economic reasons — sometimes called the “real unemployment rate” — edged higher to 7.5 percent.

Unemployment among black Americans declined three-tenths of a point to 6 percent, slightly above its record low of 5.9 percent achieved in May.

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The closely watched average hourly earnings component showed a 2.8 percent year-over-year increase, in line with Wall Street estimates. The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours.

“The labor market is in excellent shape heading into the end of 2018, perhaps the best it has been in 50 years,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC. “Job growth was a bit softer in September, but some of that was from Hurricane Florence, and it should bounce back through the rest of 2018 and into 2019.”

After the report, the 10-year Treasury yield climbed to the highest in seven years. Stock indexes edged higher at the open.

The survey period for September’s count included when Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, though the Labor Department could not quantify the storm’s impact.

The official government count was well below an estimate earlier this week from ADP and Moody’s Analytics that reported a 230,000 growth in private payrolls. However, that report did not account for Florence’s impact.

Despite the headline miss, the report had some good news.

Big August revision
August’s initial count was revised up dramatically, from 201,000 to 270,000, while July’s numbers came up as well, from 147,000 to 165,000. The revisions bring the three-month average growth to 190,000 while the 12-month average gain is 201,000.

Job gains for September were concentrated in professional and business services, which rose by 54,000. Health care saw 26,000 new positions while transportation and warehousing was up 24,000. Construction continued to show gains with 23,000, while new hires in manufacturing increased by 18,000 thanks to a gain in durable goods-related industries.


Leisure and hospitality represented the most significant decline, with 17,000 jobs lost, which the government said could have been attributable to Florence.

The decline in the unemployment rate did not come from a labor force shrinkage, as it has in past. In fact, the civilian labor force increased by 150,000 and the participation rate was unchanged at 62.7 percent.

Those counted as not in the labor force did increase by 74,000, bringing that number to nearly 96.4 million.

The data release comes amid an otherwise strong time for the U.S. economy, which grew at an average rate of 3.2 percent in the first half of the year and could post an increase north of 4 percent for the the third quarter.

Real median household income in the United States hit $61,372 in 2017, equaling the nation’s all-time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Median household income was $61,372 in 2017, an increase in real terms of 1.8 percent from the 2016 median of $60,309,” the Census Bureau said. “This is the third consecutive annual increase in median household income.”

Table A-1 in the annual income and poverty tables released today by the Census Bureau showed median household income going back to 1967 in constant 2017 dollars. In this table, the $61,372 median household income for 2017 was the highest in any year.

The second highest median household income was $60,062 in 1999 (in constant 2017 dollars) and the third highest was $59,534 in 2007 (in constant 2017 dollars).

However, in a telephone press conference this morning the Census Bureau cautioned that the $61,372 median household income in 2017 was not a stand-alone all-time high for median household income in the United States. The bureau said, by contrast, that it was “statistically tied” for the highest median household income with the $60,062 income in 1999 and the $59,534 income in 2007.

The bureau explained that this was because the question that the Census Bureau asked people about their income was changed in 2014 and because of the margin of error in the data.



Median household income was $61,372 in 2017, an increase in real terms of 1.8 percent from the 2016 median of $60,309. This is the third consecutive annual increase in median household income.

The 2017 real median income of family households increased 1.4 percent from 2016 to $77,713. Real median income for married-couple households increased 1.6 percent between 2016 and 2017.

The real median income of households maintained by non-Hispanic Whites ($68,145) and Hispanics ($50,486) increased 2.6 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, between 2016 and 2017. This is the third annual increase in median household income for these two groups. Among the race groups, households maintained by Asians had the highest median income in 2017, $81,331.

The real median income of households maintained by a native-born person increased 1.5 percent between 2016 and 2017, while the 2017 real median income of households maintained by a foreign-born person was not statistically different from 2016



The 2017 real median earnings of all male workers increased 3.0 percent from 2016 to $44,408, while real median earnings for their female counterparts ($31,610) saw no statistically significant change between 2016 and 2017.

In 2017, the real median earnings of men ($52,146) and women ($41,977) working full-time, year-round each decreased from their respective 2016 medians by 1.1 percent. The 2017 female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.805, not statistically different from the 2016 ratio.

The number of men and women working full-time, year-round increased by 1.4 million and 1.0 million, respectively, between 2016 and 2017.

Income Inequality:

The money income Gini index was 0.482 in 2017, not statistically different from 2016. Changes in money income inequality between 2016 and 2017 were not statistically significant as measured by the other indicators: the Theil index, the MLD, or the Atkinson measure.


The official poverty rate in 2017 was 12.3 percent, down 0.4 percentage points from 12.7 percent in 2016. This is the third consecutive annual decline in poverty. Since 2014, the pov­erty rate has fallen 2.5 percent­age points, from 14.8 percent to 12.3 percent.

From 2016 to 2017 the number of people in poverty decreased for people in families; people living in the West; people living outside metropolitan statistical areas; all workers; workers who worked less than full-time, year-round; people with a disabil­ity; people with a high school diploma but no college degree; and people with some college but no degree.

In 2017, there were 39.7 million people in poverty, not statisti­cally different from the number in poverty in 2016.

Between 2016 and 2017, the poverty rate for adults aged 18 to 64 declined 0.4 percentage points, from 11.6 percent to 11.2 percent, while poverty rates for individuals under age 18 and for people aged 65 and older were not statistically different from 2016.

Between 2016 and 2017, peo­ple with at least a bachelor’s degree were the only group to have an increase in the poverty rate or the number of people in poverty. Among this group, the poverty rate increased 0.3 percentage points and the number in poverty increased by 363,000 individuals between 2016 and 2017. Even with this increase, among educational attainment groups, people with at least a bachelor’s degree had the lowest poverty rates in 2017.


James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 5th, 2018


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