The US unemployment rate fell in September to its lowest rate since January 2009, figures from the Department of Labor have shown, surprising analysts who had been expecting a small rise.
September’s rate came in at 7.8%, down from 8.1% in August.
The latest data also showed that the US economy added a further 114,000 jobs in September, slightly more than markets had expected.
The US jobs market is a key issue in the presidential election race.
When the unemployment rate was last this low, President Barack Obama was about to take office.
However, economist Sean Incremona of New York-based company 4Cast said the latest data showed that the US economy remained subdued.
“Generally, we are still seeing a mixed underlying picture that is neither too impressive nor terrible,” he said.
Fellow economist, Omer Esiner, of Rhode Island-based Commonwealth Foreign Exchange, was more upbeat.
“The headline of the day is clearly the drop in the unemployment rate, which was a big surprise,” he said.
“There is something in these numbers for everyone. The rise in the participation rate shows somewhat of a real improvement in the labour market.”
The latest official data showed that the construction sector added 5,000 jobs last month, while the number of people working in government jobs rose by 10,000.
However, the biggest gain was record in the healthcare sector, which added 44,000 jobs in September.
The Labor Department also used the release of the September data to revise up how many new jobs were created in both July and August. It said that 86,000 more jobs than first calculated were added across the two months.
Separate official figures released at the end of last month revised down by how much the US economy had grown between April and June.
Gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter grew at an annualized rate of 1.3%, down from the previous estimate of 1.7%.
Spain’s economy continued to shrink at a “significant rate” in the third quarter, the Bank of Spain has said.
Spain is currently in a deepening recession, with the unemployment rate at its highest level since the 1970s.
Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on Saturday he expected the economy to contract by about 0.4% in the July-to-September quarter.
Bank of Spain has announced that the country’s economy continued to shrink at a significant rate in the third quarter
European markets were trading lower, with concerns about Spain adding to fears over global growth.
Spain’s Ibex index was down 2.3%, while markets in London, Paris and Frankfurt were down more than 1%.
Spain’s borrowing costs also rose, with the yield on 10-year Spanish bonds traded on international markets rising to 5.94% from 5.67%.
The Bank of Spain said in a monthly report: “Available data for the third quarter of the year suggests that GDP kept falling at a significant rate, in a context of high financial tensions.”
The government has introduced highly unpopular spending cuts and tax rises as it attempts to reduce the country’s deficit.
It will present details of an emergency budget and further austerity measures on Thursday.
Separately, French bank Societe Generale said that it had further cut its exposure to Spanish sovereign debt, to 400 million euros ($515 million) by the end of August, from 700 million euros at the end of June.
Apple fans aren’t the only people chomping at the bit for the new iPhone to be released but now American economists are excited about the expected unveiling of the latest version because they think it will boost the US economy.
The next generation iPhone 5, which Apple plans to release on Wednesday, could not only boost the tech giant’s bottom line but could give a significant boost to the overall US economy.
Sales of the iPhone 5 could add between a quarter and a half percentage point to fourth quarter annualized growth in the US, according to J.P. Morgan’s chief economist, Michael Feroli in a note to clients on Monday.
Such an impact would be significant.
The next generation iPhone 5 could not only boost Apple's bottom line but could give a significant boost to the overall US economy
“Calculated using the so-called retail control method, sales of iPhone 5 could boost annualized GDP growth by $3.2 billion, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate,” Michael Feroli wrote.
That 0.33 percentage-point boost, he added, “would limit the downside risk to our Q4 GDP growth protection, which remains 2.0 percent”.
Michael Feroli laid out his math. J.P. Morgan’s analysts expect Apple to sell around 8 million iPhone 5s in the fourth quarter. They expect the sales price to be about $600.
With about $200 in discounted import component costs, the government can factor in $400 per phone into its measure of gross domestic product for the fourth quarter.
Michael Feroli said the estimate of between a quarter to a half point of annualized GDP “seems fairly large, and for that reason should be treated skeptically”.
But, he added, “we think the recent evidence is consistent with this projection”.
Michael Feroli said that when the last iPhone was launched in October 2011, sales significantly outperformed expectations.
“Given the iPhone 5 launch is expected to be much larger, we think the estimate mentioned … is reasonable,” Michael Feroli wrote.
According to a recent Reuters poll of Wall Street dealers and economists, US GDP was seen at 2.0% on average in 2013, down slightly from estimates this summer.