September Jobs Report: Unemployment Hits New Low, but Signals Are Mixed

■ 136,000 jobs were added last month, the government reported on Friday. Analysts surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a gain of about 147,000. ■ The unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, the lowest in a half century and down from 3.7 percent the month before. ■ Average hourly earnings were little changed after growing by 0.4 percent in August. The year-over-year gain was 2.9 percent. The Takeaway The cavalcade of payroll gains continued for the 108th month in September, pushing down the jobless rate to a 50-year low and countering anxieties…

Economic Antidote for a Shrinking America: Immigrants

MIAMI — After finishing a particularly satisfying dinner at a Coral Gables restaurant with his wife, Pedro Martinez quietly slipped around to the back alley where the kitchen is. “Whatever you’re making, I’ll give you a raise,” Mr. Martinez whispered when the back door swung open. An executive at 50 Eggs, a restaurant group based in Miami, he is always ready with a stack of business cards for occasions like this. More immigrants have streamed into South Florida than to most American cities, and for decades, employers have relied on…

July Jobs Report: U.S. Added 164,000 Jobs; Unemployment Unchanged

Frank Lopez, executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Ryder System, which has 800 locations throughout North America, said explosive growth over the past five years had cranked up his company’s need for skilled workers, particularly drivers and diesel mechanics. “I’m never at full employment,” Mr. Lopez said. To cope, the truck leasing, maintenance and logistics company has stepped up its efforts to develop its own talent pool, looking to recruit students right out of high school and service members finishing up military tours. It has also become…

Where Floods of ‘Biblical Proportion’ Drowned Towns and Farms

Floodwaters swamped more than half a million acres of forest and farmland in the lower Mississippi Delta more than six months ago, gulping up highways and homes, livestock and tractors. This week, for the first time since, the river gauge at Vicksburg on the western border fell below flood stage. “This is biblical proportion,” Paul Hartfield, an endangered species biologist with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, said of the floods. “Nothing like this has ever been seen.” Climate change is increasingly turning the extraordinary into the ordinary. Extreme…

Southerners, Facing Big Odds, Believe in a Path Out of Poverty

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A widening income gap and sagging social mobility have left dents in the American dream. But the belief that anyone with enough gumption and grit can clamber to the top remains central to the nation’s self-image. And that could complicate Democratic efforts to frame the 2020 presidential election as a referendum on a broken economic system. Americans, who tend to link rewards to individual effort, routinely overestimate the ease of moving up the income ranks, while Europeans — citing an unfair system, inherited wealth and sticky social…