National unemployment rate falls to 6-year low

The U.S. economy added 248,000 jobs and the national unemployment rate dipped to 5.9 percent in September, the lowest in six years, according to the latest report by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Leading the way were gains in the professional and business services sector, which added 81,000 jobs, and the retail and health care industries. The government also increased its estimate of job growth in July and August by 69,000 positions to 180,000.

“This is a very muscular report,” Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management, told The Washington Post. “It’s showing powerful job creation, no matter how one cares to slice it.”

The U.S. economy has added private sector jobs for 54 consecutive months, the longest streak of job growth in history.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Wisconsin stands at 5.6 percent, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Robust job growth in southeastern Wisconsin led to a strong regional economic performance in August, according to the latest monthly report by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. Sixteen of 23 monthly economic indicators pointed upward in August marking the fifth consecutive month in which over two-thirds or more of indicators tracked by the MMAC registered positive.

“The pace of metro area employment growth in recent months has reached levels not seen since 1998,” said Bret Mayborne, economic research director for the MMAC. “Strengthening job growth has led to an improving unemployment picture, pushing the local unemployment rate below 6 percent for the first time since December, 2008.”

Highlights of the MMAC report include:

  • Nonfarm employment in the metro area grew at a 2.5 percent pace in August (vs. August, 2013), to 853,000. August marks the 47th consecutive month of year-over-year job growth while gains in the past three months rank as the strongest such period of growth posted since June, 1998.
  • Seven of ten major industry sectors posted August employment gains. The leisure & hospitality and government sectors registered the strongest increases, both up 6.2 percent vs. year ago levels while the financial activities sector (down 1.8 percent) recorded the largest decline.
  • Weakness remains among local housing and real estate indicators. Against year-ago levels, metro area existing home sales in August fell at a 1.4 percent pace while mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County dropped 29.2 percent. Existing home sales in the metro area fell for the seventh consecutive month – down 1.4 percent vs. year-ago levels, to 1,507 and mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County fell for the 13th consecutive month – down 29.2 percent, to 2,027.
  • New-car registrations fell 11.2 percent in August (to 2,629), following a 1.9 percent decline in July. August’s percentage decline was the largest year-over-year fall posted in over two years (since March, 2012). Air passenger totals at Mitchell International Airport rose marginally in August, up 0.1 percent, to 593,731.
  • The value of signed construction contracts, as reported by F.W. Dodge for July, was $175.8 million, up 39.1 percent from July, 2013.

Wall Street embraced the positive economic news today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered 197 points and rose to 16,997.

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