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Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 136,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate fell even lower, from 3.7% to 3.5% — the lowest level since December 1969 — the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: While it's fewer than the 145,000 economists expected, the labor market continues to be the bright spot in the economy. The number may calm recession fears after a week that saw deterioration in manufacturing data and softening on the all-important services side of the economy.

The big picture: Jobs gains were better than expected in prior months, too.

  • July numbers were revised higher to 166,000 from 159,000, while August's job gains were revised to 168,000 from 130,000.
  • Unemployment for African Americans and Hispanics are at an all-time low.

Between the lines: One dark spot in the report: wages rose only 2.9% on an annual basis — a slowdown from previous months. This is surprising given how low the unemployment rate is, which would typically push employers to bid wages higher in order to attract employees.

Go deeper: Private sector adds more jobs than expected in September

Go deeper

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.