US jobs growth surges; wage gain largest in 9 years

WASHINGTON • United States jobs growth accelerated last month, with wages notching their largest annual increase in nine years, strengthening views the economy was so far weathering the Trump administration's escalating trade war with China.

Non-farm payrolls surged by 201,000 jobs last month, boosted by hiring at construction sites, wholesalers and professional and business services, the Labour Department said yesterday. The economy needs to create 120,000 jobs a month to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

Average hourly earnings increased 0.4 per cent, or 10 cents, in August after rising 0.3 per cent in July. That raised the annual increase in wages to 2.9 per cent in August, the largest increase since June 2009, from 2.7 per cent in July.

Strengthening wage growth underscores tightening labour market conditions and cements expectations for a third interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve this year when policymakers meet on Sept 25 to 26.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.9 per cent last month. But a broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment, fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.4 per cent, the lowest level since April 2001.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast non-farm payrolls increasing by 191,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate falling to 3.8 per cent. The economy created 50,000 fewer jobs in June and July than previously reported.

Analysts say the administration's US$1.5 trillion (S$2.07 trillion) tax cut package and increased government spending were shielding the economy from trade tensions, which have also seen Washington engage in tit-for-tat tariffs with other trade partners, including the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

  • 201,000

    US non-farm payrolls surged by this number of jobs last month, boosted by hiring at construction sites, wholesalers and professional and business services.

Job gains in August were almost across all sectors, though manufacturing payrolls fell by 3,000. That was the first drop since July last year and followed an increase of 18,000 this July. Construction companies hired 23,000 more workers last month. They increased payrolls by 18,000 jobs in July.

Government employment fell 3,000 last month.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2018, with the headline 'US jobs growth surges; wage gain largest in 9 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe