US unemployment falls to lowest rate in 48 years despite Hurricane Florence

US unemployment falls to lowest rate in 48 years despite Hurricane Florence

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US unemployment has fallen to 3.7%, its lowest rate in 48 years, despite the effects of Hurricane Florence.

Although just 134,000 new positions were added last month – far weaker than analysts expected – it was still enough to keep the overall unemployment rate at the lowest it has been since the end of 1969.

One of the main factors in the dip in the vacancies was likely to be Hurricane Florence, which struck North and South Carolina at the beginning of September, closing thousands of businesses.

Among those worst affected were restaurants, hotels and casinos, which saw jobs lost for the first time since September 2017, when Hurricane Harvey hit.

The US Labour Department report said that employment in leisure and hospitality was down by 17,000 during the month but before September, it had been “on a modest upward trend”.

It added: “Some of the weakness in this industry in September may reflect the impact of Hurricane Florence.”

Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, said: “It’s always difficult to assess the impact of something such as Hurricane Florence but it would certainly appear it weighed on employment during the month.

“That said, 134,000 jobs is far from a terrible employment number and with August’s being revised up by another 69,000, the labour market looks extremely healthy and provides further evidence of a booming economy.

“All things considered, this is actually another very good report that other countries will be extremely envious of.”

The good news does not necessarily mean that Americans are being paid better, however – the average hourly wage was up just 2.8% compared to the same time last year.

Meanwhile, the US trade deficit increased to a six-month high in August, up 6.4% to $53.2bn (£40.6bn).

This comes despite President Donald Trump’s tariffs on goods from countries including China and those of the European Union.

(c) Sky News 2018: US unemployment falls to lowest rate in 48 years despite Hurricane Florence