The U.S. Labor Market Continues To Add Jobs, But Pace Of Growth Expected To Slow

The U.S. economy added 136,000 nonfarm jobs in September, pushing the unemployment rate down to 3.5 percent. The job market’s health was reflected in The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index, which increased to 110.97 in September. While the Index is up 0.7 percent from the year-ago level, it points to employment increases in the U.S. remaining steady but growing at a slower clip.

“The Employment Trends Index still remains on a flat trend since the summer of 2018. The behavior of the ETI is consistent with a continued expansion of the labor market, but perhaps at a slower rate,” says Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Market Institute. “Employment growth has clearly slowed in the past year, but the current pace of job creation remains strong enough to continue to tighten the labor market. The speed of hiring may slow a little in the coming months as a result of weakening business confidence and a tightening labor market.”

With steady labor force participation rates, The Conference Board reports that job gains were highly concentrated in some industries, notably health care and professional and business services, while there was no movement in job changes in the goods-producing industries. It did note that with the services sectors still adding jobs, it is encouraging to see that hiring has not dramatically downshifted despite a recent large drop in business sentiment.

Job growth remains on its slowing trend even as labor markets continue to tighten. While wages dropped slightly, finding qualified workers is likely to get more difficult. In The Conference Board’s assessment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s report, overall, provides more evidence that the labor market is still healthy and does not necessarily increase the likelihood of further rate cuts by the Federal Reserve in the remainder of the year.

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