- Streeter Lecka/Getty
The US economy in September lost more jobs than it created for the first time in seven years.
Amid the damage caused by the hurricanes Harvey and Irma, nonfarm payrolls fell by 33,000, the Labor Department said Friday in its monthly report.
Most of the losses occurred in the leisure-and-hospitality sector, where most employees can’t work remotely and are paid only if they show up. It shed 111,000 jobs, the most dating back to at least 1945. Employees who weren’t paid during the Labor Department’s survey week (of September 12) were not counted as employed.
“In short, this single-month drop in payrolls should be temporary, doesn’t appear to be indicative of a broader economic slowdown, and will likely reverse next month,” said Jim Baird, the chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.
Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria, is not included in the BLS report.
Economists had expected the hurricanes to slow hiring but had a more bullish median forecast for an increase of 80,000 jobs.
There were, however, three bright spots in September’s report: The unemployment rate fell to a new postrecession low, labor-force participation increased, and wages jumped.
The unemployment rate dropped to 4.2%, its lowest since February 2001. The BLS said the hurricanes had “no discernible effect” on this rate.
Average hourly earnings jumped by 0.5% month-over-month and 2.9% year-over-year, both accelerating from August. They could have been skewed, however, by the fact that many low-wage employees stayed away from work after the hurricanes.
The labor-force participation rate rose to 63.1% from 62.9%.