Lifestyle - October 6, 2017

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey Caused U.S. Economy to Lose Jobs in September

The September jobs report is out. It showed that the US economy shed jobs for the first time since 2010, something the Bureau of Labor Statistics blamed on the damage caused by the hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

In a release Friday, the BLS said the hurricanes affected the payroll jobs number but not the unemployment rate.

“It is likely that the payroll employment estimates for September were lower due to the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey,” William J. Wiatrowski, the acting BLS commissioner, said in the release.

“The storms caused large-scale evacuations and severe damage to many homes and businesses,” he continued.

“Many employees in the areas affected by the hurricanes were likely off payrolls during the reference pay period for September.”

Nonfarm payrolls fell by 33,000 in September, according to the BLS. Most of the losses occurred in the leisure-and-hospitality sector.

It shed 111,000 jobs, its most dating back to at least 1939.

Within that sector, the BLS drew attention to employment in food services and drinking places, which fell by 105,000 last month.

“In this industry, a large majority of workers are not paid when they are absent from work,” Wiatrowski said.

“Hence, if these employees were unable to work during the September survey reference pay period because they had evacuated,

or because their establishments were not open for business due to power failures or other effects of the hurricanes, they were not included on September payrolls.”

The unemployment rate fell to 4.2%, its lowest level since February 2001.

“Payrolls were hit hard by the hurricanes,” Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.

“We expect the recovery to begin in October, but if Katrina is any guide the big rebound won’t come until November.”

Irma made landfall during the September jobs report’s reference period, while Harvey hit before it.

Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are not included in the report.

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