Unemployment in September fell to 7.8% (according to government stats) but otherwise the economic situation was pretty much as it has been for the last six months: improving but at a slow rate. Employment was up 1.4% over last year, with health care and business services providing the bulk of new jobs, as usual.
Some interesting developments: jobs in car manufacture were up 7% as car sales increase 9%; jobs in truck transport were up 4%, signaling that companies are confident enough to increase inventories; the hemorrhaging of teaching jobs has finally stopped; restaurant jobs were up 3%; and jobs in real estate and construction edged upward after years of contraction.
Jobs in the retail trade were up a measly 1%, usually a bad sign, but retail sales in recent months were up 6% over last year — which after inflation means 3% of real stuff, a good sign. The explanation is that jobs decreased at department stores, book stores, and electronics stores, as consumers increasingly buy things on-line; but jobs increased at stores that sell building materials, food, health care products, and clothes, things that people still want to buy in person.
On the financial front, the delinquency rate on mortgages remains stubbornly stuck at 12%, as it has been since 2009, but the rate on credit cards is below 3%, the lowest in more than a decade.