U.S. Labor Market Stayed Tight in September: NFP +263k, Jobless Rate Falls to 3.5%

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U.S. Labor Market Stayed Tight in September: NFP +263k, Jobless Rate Falls to 3.5%

By Geoffrey Smith 

Investing.com -- The U.S. economy continued to add jobs at a solid rate in September, with employment growth slowing only slightly from August.

Nonfarm employment rose by 263,000 through the middle of the month, the Labor Department said on Friday - a little more than the 250,000 expected and only a moderate drop from August's number of 315,000, which was left unrevised.

The jobless rate ticked down to a new low of 3.5% of the workforce from 3.7% in August, suggesting that the scramble for workers has hardly eased up despite increasing signs of a slowdown in parts of the economy. It's now where it was immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted early in 2020.

The drop in the jobless rate was due to the unemployed finding work, rather than to more people entering the workforce. The participation rate edged down to 62.3% from 62.4% in August.

Even so, there was no sign of wage pressures accelerating, as average hourly earnings continued to grow at a steady clip of 0.3%. As such, earnings growth slowed in year-on-year terms to 5.0% from 5.2% in August, well behind the rate of inflation .

The survey was completed before Hurricane Ian hit the coast of Florida and South Carolina, meaning that any impact from that event will only be visible in October's numbers.

The modest rise in earnings growth helped to keep the initial market reaction relatively muted, at the end of a week when investors have bet heavily that the slowing economy will force the Federal Reserve to abandon its course of interest rate increases earlier, and at a lower terminal level, than the central bank is predicting. Fed officials have repeatedly pushed back against such expectations in the last couple of days.

By 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT), the yield on the interest-rate-sensitive 2-Year Treasury note was up 6 basis points at 4.31%, while the 10-Year note yield was at 3.91%.

However, the dollar rose to its intraday high against the yen , sterling and the euro , as the data reaffirmed the outlook for a long period in which U.S. rates will be higher than those elsewhere in advanced economies.

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