Remarkable Strength          

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By Isaac Cohen*

The job market in the United States has again surprised positively most observers. Last week, the Labor Department said 336,000 new jobs were created in September, from the revised figure of 227,000 in August, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8 percent.

Job creation during 33 consecutive months is remarkable, because it is happening despite the central bank’s monetary policy tightening, raising interest rates in 19 months over 5 percent, unseen in 22 years.

Almost 70 percent of the September job creation was concentrated in three sectors: hospitality and leisure (96,000), government (73,000) and healthcare (65,900), with the first two sectors regaining the employment levels both had reached before the pandemic. Average hourly wages increased moderately, 0.2 percent since August and 4.2 percent since a year ago in September, below the rate of inflation.

This will be the last employment report that will be available before the central bank’s Open Market Committee meeting, scheduled for October 31 and November 1. Together with another report on inflation, to be released on October 12, the strength of the labor market is an indicator which supports those who anticipate there may be another interest rate increase before the end of the year.

*International analyst and consultant, former Director ECLAC Washington. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media.

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