Hicks: Good News, Bad News For Jobs Report

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Ball State University economist Mike Hicks says the national unemployment report paints a mixed picture. The jobless rate fell to 4.2 percent, despite a decline of 33,000 jobs caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. "Even with these isolated natural disasters, the labor force grew, and the number of involuntary part time worker shrank in September," said Hicks. "The fantastic news was the apparent growth in wages." He says the number of jobs halted by the storms is on par with the aftermath from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Annual weekly earnings, he says, rose by over $4 or an annual rate of 5.45 percent. "Much of that is due to more hours worked each week," Hicks added, "but even hourly earnings rose at a 2.7 percent rate. With inflation holding steady at 2 percent or less, these gains point towards strengthening wages for workers, which economists have long been waiting to see."

Hicks notes employment growth is steadily on the rise -- between 150,000 and 200,000 -- which is a likely reflection of lower worker availability.

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