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MUNCIE, Ind. — Unemployment nationwide is the lowest it’s been in 49 years, but Ball State economist Dr. Michael Hicks said Friday it’s not necessarily for a good reason.

“Yes, I am happy that unemployment is the lowest it’s been since I was a lad,” Hicks said. “The fact that we created about 134,000 jobs last month, but we also lost that many more people out of the labor force. So the big reduction in the unemployment rate is really attributed to people dropping out of the labor pool.”

The September jobs report said the United States came up about 46,000 jobs shy of what was forecast at the beginning of the month. Hicks is also worried about a slowing manufacturing sector and it’s thanks to the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration.

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Hicks is also skeptical of the effectiveness of a newly proposed trade deal, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, that would essentially replace NAFTA. He says the USMCA is little more than a “name change” for NAFTA.

“This deal does not take away the steel or aluminum tariffs on Canada,” Hicks said. “There is nothing in that trade deal, except the change in the name, that’s going to make any meaningful difference for both producers and consumers in the coming months.”

As far as the unemployment rate goes, Hicks believes it could still go a little lower since “businesses are hiring like crazy.”

(PHOTO: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)