National unemployment rate falls 8th straight year to 49-year low

Courthouse News — The unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September, the lowest level since December 1969, the Labor Department said Friday.

Employers added just 134,000 jobs, the fewest in a year, but that figure was likely lowered by Hurricane Florence, which struck North and South Carolina in early September and shuttered thousands of businesses, the government said.

Even with unemployment at a historic low, average hourly pay increased just 2.8 percent from a year earlier, slightly below the yearly gain in August.

In other economic news, the Commerce Department said Friday that record imports drove the U.S. trade deficit up for the third straight month in August.

As they did so, deficits in the trade of goods with China and Mexico hit records.

According to the government, the trade gap — the difference between what America sells and what it buys abroad — rose to $53.2 billion in August from $50 billion in July.

The August reading was the highest since February.

Imports rose 0.6 percent to a record $262.7 billion. Exports slid 0.8 percent to $209.4 billion.