Business Briefs – October 6, 2019

U.S. Unemployment Rate Hits a 50-Year Low Even as Hiring Slows

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in September, the lowest level in nearly five decades, even though employers appeared to turn more cautious and slowed their hiring.

The economy added a modest 136,000 jobs, enough to likely ease worries that an economy weakened by the U.S.-China trade war and tepid global growth might be edging toward a potential recession. The government on Friday also revised up its estimate of job growth in July and August by a combined 45,000.

Still, a drop-off in the pace of hiring compared with last year points to rising uncertainty among employers about the job market and the economy in the face of President Donald Trump’s numerous trade conflicts. Pay growth has also weakened, reflecting the hesitance of employers to step up wages.

Fed Chairman Says Goal Is to Keep Economy in ‘Good Place’

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday that the U.S. economy is facing some risks at the moment, but overall it is in a “good place” and the Fed’s main job is to “keep it there as long as possible.” Powell noted that unemployment is at a half-century low and inflation is running close to the Fed’s 2% target.

U.S. Trade Deficit Widened In August to $54.9 Billion

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. trade deficit widened in August for the first time in three months as exports increased but imports increased more. The Commerce Department says the gap between what the United buys and what it sells abroad rose 1.6% to $54.9 billion from $54 billion in July. The deficit had fallen in June and July. But it is still up for the year despite President Donald Trump’s attempts to push it down by imposing taxes on imports and waging a trade war with China.

Spanish Farmers Fear ‘Unfair’ Blow of U.S. Tariffs

CÓRDOBA, Spain (AP) – Olives are harvested the old-fashioned way on Juan Luque’s farm in southern Spain, as men thrash the gnarly tree limbs with poles, raining the small green fruit into a motorized collector underneath. But for Luque and thousands of other European farmers, the brewing tariffs war between Washington and Brussels over subsidies to airplane makers is putting his livelihood at risk. “It is totally unfair that a commercial war in the aeronautical sector affects the agriculture sector,” he said Friday.

Crusading Tech Mogul Aims to Prove CEOs Can Be Activists Too

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff runs a $130 billion software empire from the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco. But he is deeply troubled by what his industry has done to worsen an economic divide and other issues polarizing people down on the streets. So he’s urging CEOs to lead a revolution that puts the welfare of people and the planet ahead of profits. But critics wonder whether a brash billionaire can be trusted to fix problems his industry has exacerbated.