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U.S. employers added a modest 136,000 jobs in September, enough to help lower the unemployment rate to a new five-decade low of 3.5%.

The Associated Press reported that hiring has slowed this year as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified, global growth is down and businesses have cut back on their investment spending. Even so, hiring has averaged 157,000 in the past three months, enough to absorb new job seekers and lower unemployment over time.

Despite the ultra-low unemployment rate, which dropped from 3.7% in August, average hourly wages slipped by a penny, the Labor Department said today (Oct. 4) in its monthly jobs report. Hourly pay rose just 2.9% from a year earlier, below the 3.4% year-over-year gain at the beginning of the year.

The unemployment rate for Latinos fell to 3.9%, the lowest on records dating from 1973.

With the U.S. economic expansion in its 11th year and unemployment low, many businesses have struggled to find the workers they need. That is likely one reason why hiring has slowed since last year.

But it’s likely not the only reason. The jobs figures carry more weight than usual because worries about the health of the U.S. economy are mounting. Manufacturers have essentially fallen into recession as U.S. businesses have cut spending on industrial machinery, computers and other factory goods. And overseas demand for U.S. exports has fallen sharply as President Donald Trump’s trade conflicts with China and Europe have triggered retaliatory tariffs.

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