WASHINGTON - The unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September, its lowest level since 1969, the Labor Department reported Friday, Oct. 5.
Many forecasters believe it will decline even more in the months to come.
There were 134,000 new jobs created, with September's storm and catastrophic flooding in the Carolinas likely preventing some businesses from bringing new workers on, and some people from getting to their first day on the job.
Experts see the dip in September hiring as a temporary blip in a period for the U.S. economy that Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell called "extraordinary" this week.
"The Labor Department counts only people who were paid something -- anything -- during the survey period," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, noting that some new employees might not have been able to make it in.
The nation saw a sharp drop in new hires last year after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, almost snapping the record-setting streak of years of continuous job growth. But the economy quickly bounced back, and areas hit by storms were soon drawing lots of construction workers to aid in rebuilding.
While unemployment remains low, wages grew 2.8 percent in September, a slight disappointment after 2.9 percent growth in August, which was the highest in nine years.
Many major employers announced pay increases in recent months, but those have yet to significantly move the needle nationally on average hourly earnings, which haven't topped 3 percent growth yet in this expansion. Amazon, America's second-largest employer, announced it was increasing its starting pay to $15 an hour in November for full-time and temporary employees, another sign wages might move up in the coming months.
Powell said more wage growth is "quite welcome" and the Fed isn't worried yet about higher pay causing inflation. In fact, the wage gains most Americans are seeing are getting entirely wiped out by rising gas, rent and other prices.
"Every month for the past year, the...wage data releases have continued to demonstrate that workers simply aren't getting ahead," Ryan Nunn and Jay Shambaugh of the Brookings Institute, a think tank, said in a report out this week. "Real wage growth has been consistently hovering around zero."
This article was written by Heather Long, a reporter for The Washington Post.