US unemployment down to 3.9% as 164,000 jobs added

The overall unemployment rate is now the lowest since December 2000. (AP)
Updated 04 May 2018

US unemployment down to 3.9% as 164,000 jobs added

WASHINGTON: US employers stepped up hiring modestly in April, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, evidence of the economy’s resilience amid the recent stock market chaos and anxieties about a possible trade war.
Job growth amounted to a decent 164,000 last month, up from an upwardly revised 135,000 in March. The unemployment rate fell after having held at 4.1 percent for the prior six months largely because fewer people were searching for jobs.
The overall unemployment rate is now the lowest since December 2000. The rate for African-Americans — 6.6 percent — is the lowest on record since 1972.
Many employers say it’s difficult to find qualified workers. But they have yet to significantly bump up pay in most industries. Average hourly earnings rose 2.6 percent from a year ago.
The pace of hiring has yet to be disrupted by dramatic global market swings, a recent pickup in inflation and the risk that the tariffs being pushed by President Donald Trump could provoke a trade war.
Much of the economy’s strength, for the moment, comes from the healthy job market. The increase in people earning paychecks has bolstered demand for housing, even though fewer properties are being listed for sale. Consumer confidence has improved over the past year. And more people are shopping, with retail sales having picked up in March after three monthly declines.
Workers in the private sector during the first three months of 2018 enjoyed their sharpest average income growth in 11 years, the Labor Department said last week in a separate report on compensation. That pay growth suggests that some of the momentum from the slow but steady recovery from the 2008 financial crisis is spreading to more people after it had disproportionately benefited the nation’s wealthiest areas and highest earners.
The monthly jobs reports have shown pay raises inching up. At the same time, employers have become less and less likely to shed workers. The four-week moving average for people applying for first-time unemployment benefits has reached its lowest level since 1973.
The trend reflects a decline in mass layoffs. Many companies expect the economy to keep expanding, especially after a dose of stimulus from tax cuts signed into law by Trump that have also increased the federal budget deficit.


Qatar’s top bank Q2 profit slides over virus

Updated 12 July 2020

Qatar’s top bank Q2 profit slides over virus

  • QNB net profit in the 2nd quarter plunged 25.8%

DOHA: Qatar National Bank, the largest lender in the Middle East, said Sunday its net profits for the second quarter sank over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
QNB net profit in the second quarter plunged 25.8 percent to 2.84 billion riyals ($780 million) compared to $1.05 billion in the same period a year ago, the bank said in a statement.
The first quarter net profit of QNB, which has operations in 31 countries including Turkey, Indonesia and India, dropped only slightly.
Its net income in the first six months of the year also dipped 13.6 percent to $1.76 billion from $2.04 billion a year ago, it said.
The bank said it increased the loan loss provisions by $320 million in the first half to safeguard itself from any adverse shocks from the pandemic, thus affecting its profitability.
Total assets rose 10 percent to $267 billion on June 30, making it the largest lender in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of assets.