US Adds 136,000 Jobs in September as Jobless Rate Hits 50-Year Low

The U.S. jobless rate fell to a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in September while employers added 136,000 jobs, according to Labor Department figures released Friday morning. Private payrolls grew by 114,000 employees last month, less than the 122,000 increase in August.

Economists from the Wall Street Journal had predicted that 145,000 positions would be added to the economy but also forecast that the unemployment rate would be higher, at 3.7 percent.

Growth figures from August were revised upward, with the Labor Department saying that 168,000 positions had been created, instead of the initially reported 130,000. An average of 223,000 jobs were added each month last year, according to The Washington Post. That number has dropped to 161,000 so far in 2019.

Wage growth grew 2.9 percent from last year, disappointing analysts but beating the pace of inflation. Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, wrote in a blog post that the wage growth was slower than it should be in an economy with such low unemployment.

"There's a chance the recent low of 2.9 percent is a blip, but it's certainly a troubling sign and something to watch in coming months,"

Although job growth fell below expectations, the figures eased concerns about a looming recession that had been fueled by concerning economic reports earlier in the week.

Gad Levanon, the chief economist of North America for The Conference Board summarized the findings, writing, "Overall, this report provides more evidence that the labor market is still healthy."

"Job growth remains on its slowing trend even as labor markets continue to get tighter. While wages dropped slightly, finding qualified workers is likely to get more difficult," he added.

Data published Tuesday from the Institute of Supply Management showed that manufacturing activity fell to its lowest level since June 2009. Figures published Thursday showed that U.S. service sector activity dropped to the lowest level in three years. The World Trade Organization also slashed trade volume expectations on Tuesday, warning intensifying trade conflicts would damage global growth.

Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Carolyn B. Maloney said in a Friday statement that Trump's trade policies were damaging to Americans.

"It became all too clear this week that his trade wars are hurting manufacturing and that his tax cuts for the wealthy are failing to boost business investment. Wall Street is getting the jitters. The president's economic policies are causing more harm than good," Maloney said.

The Trump administration will resume trade negotiations with China next week. But as Washington and Beijing seek to make progress on their longstanding dispute, which has raised uncertainty for businesses and damaged global growth, the Trump administration is escalating a new tariff dispute.

On Wednesday, the World Trade Organization issued its findings on a dispute over illegal subsidies given by Europe to aerospace company Airbus, saying that the U.S. could levy tariffs against $7.5 billion worth of European imports. The U.S. said it planned to implement tariffs as high as 25 percent on a range of food items from the European Union. The E.U. has vowed to retaliate.

A hiring sign is displayed in a business window along a shopping street in lower Manhattan on July 5. The U.S. added 136,000 jobs last month. Spencer Platt/Getty Images