MUNCIE - Ball State University economist Mike Hicks says, despite an unemployment rate that dropped to its lowest level since 1969, the September federal jobs report was disappointing. The figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hicks says, show 134,000 jobs were added, lower than previous estimates of 185,000 and "poorest performance" in a year. Hicks says the results were affected by Hurricane Florence, which hit North Carolina and surrounding states last month.

"The report added almost 90,000 jobs to past months due to revisions. However, the unemployment rate declined because more workers exited the labor force than found jobs. The report also revised manufacturing jobs up in both August and September, erasing the losses previously reported in August. However, this jobs report adds to the significant slowing of manufacturing employment growth over the past five months," Hicks, who is the director of Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research, said.

Hicks adds trade tensions among global trading partners with the U.S. will continue to serve as a drag on manufacturing, but he believes the effects will be partially offset by "significant" growth in demand for housing and housing-related materials connected to the hurricane and flooding.