US economy looks strong heading into mid-term polls

Published: November 04, 2018 22:18:45 | Updated: November 05, 2018 16:45:45


A file photo showing a woman filling out a job application at a JobNewsUSA job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla recently — AP

For a US economic expansion now in its 10th year, hiring remains robust, growth has picked up and the outlook is a mostly bright one on the eve of congressional elections, reports AP.

On Friday, the government reported that employers added a strong 250,000 jobs in October and that the unemployment rate remained 3.7 per cent, the lowest level in nearly 50 years. Pay also rose at a healthy pace. Consumers are confident, spending freely, fueling brisk economic growth and encouraging employers to keep hiring.

"Unemployment at 3.7 per cent Wages UP!" President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday morning. "These are incredible numbers. Keep it going, Vote Republican!"

Yet one surprising element of the midterm campaign season has been how little the sunny economic picture appears to be benefiting Trump and Republican congressional candidates. Polls show that while voters broadly approve of the economy, they give low ratings to Trump himself.

Many appear motivated by non-economic factors. And nationally, voters prefer Democrats to Republicans in elections for the House, according to surveys of voters' generic preferences.

Here are five gauges of the US economy as Election Day nears:

Many employers have long complained that they can't find enough workers to fill jobs.

But in recent months it appears they have finally taken the step economists have long recommended: Pay more. Average hourly earnings rose 3.1 per cent in October from a year earlier, the sharpest year-over-year gain since 2009.

Inflation also has increased in the past year, eroding some of the value of that increase.

And a storm-related drop in average wages a year ago, resulting from Hurricane Harvey, helped inflate October's gain.

Still, the pay growth suggests that the benefits of a healthy economy are rippling out to more people.

With the unemployment rate so low, many economists have expected hiring to decline as businesses face a dwindling supply of unemployed people.

Yet that hasn't happened. Average monthly hiring this year is above the pace of 2017.

The vigor of the job market is helping lead some Americans who were neither working nor looking for work to begin seeking a job.

In October, the proportion of Americans with jobs reached its highest level in 10 years.

Many of employers' most recent hires had struggled through much of the nation's 10-year recovery from the Great Recession.

The proportion of people without a high school diploma who are now working is the highest on records dating to 1992. And the proportion of teenagers with jobs is at the highest level in a decade.

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