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Tuesday 20

November, 201812:49 AM



US gains 223,000 jobs

US gains 223,000 jobs

US employers have added 223,000 jobs and helped lower the unemployment rate to an 18-year low of 3.8 per cent.

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By AAP 01.06.2018 10:48 PM

US employers extended a streak of solid hiring in May, adding 223,000 jobs and helping lower the unemployment rate to an 18-year low of 3.8 per cent.

The Labor Department says average hourly pay rose 2.7 per cent from a year earlier, a slightly faster annual rate than in April. But pay growth remains below levels that are typical when the unemployment rate is this low.

Still, the report shows that the nearly 9-year old economic expansion - the second-longest on record - remains on track. Employers appear to be shrugging off recent concerns about global trade disputes.

The job market is also benefiting a wider range of Americans: The unemployment rate for high school graduates reached 3.9 per cent, a 17-year low. For black Americans, it hit a record low of 5.9 per cent.

The solid hiring data coincides with other evidence that the economy is on firm footing after a brief slowdown in the first three months of the year. The economy grew at a modest 2.2 per cent annual rate in the January-March quarter, after three quarters that had averaged roughly 3 per cent annually.

Some economists remain concerned that the Trump administration's aggressive actions on trade could hamper growth. The administration on Thursday imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from key allies in Europe, Canada and Mexico. Earlier in the week, it threatened to hit China with tariffs on $US50 billion of its goods.

Still, while Trump has made such threats since March, most employers so far haven't suspended hiring.

And consumers have started to spend more freely, after having pulled back in the January-March quarter. That gain could reflect in part the effect of the Trump administration's tax cuts, which might be encouraging more Americans to step up spending. Consumer spending rose in April at its fastest pace in five months.

Companies are spending more on industrial machinery, computers and software - signs that they're optimistic enough about future growth to expand their capacity.

Manufacturers have benefited from healthier business spending and have increased hiring. In April, factories expanded production of turbines and other heavy machinery by the most in seven months.

Yet even with unemployment at an 18-year low, wage growth has been chronically sluggish in most industries, leaving many Americans still struggling to pay bills, particularly as inflation has ticked up.

Still, companies are starting to pay more to lure workers from other companies, a trend that could lead to broader pay gains in coming months.

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