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November 09, 1999
Unemployment rate goes down...again
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% jobless rate, Wages go up just 1 cent an hour

The American economy is humming along in overdrive. According to statistics released last week by the Labor Department, two seemingly incompatible indexes show that the economy is experiencing the best of all possible worlds: full employment and moderate wage increases. Unemployment rates are now the lowest in 30 years at 4.1%, and last month wages for workers below the rank of supervisor increased at only 1 cent per hour.

The Clinton administration was not shy about talking up this good news. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman said: "We are drawing more and more people into jobs by making work pay." Other experts believe that growth in productivity and efficiency have helped American corporations get more done with fewer resources. And even more explanations are the rapid growth of temporary workers, immigrants, the decline of unions and the inflation rate.

Other economists pointed out that there are signs that some of the recent growth might be slowing. Car, retail , and home sales have not experienced quite the same growth rates as they had earlier in the year. And the number of new people being employed slowed to 160,000 a month from August through October, down from 210,000 earlier in the year.

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