Battered by the one-two punch of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the number of U.S. jobs declined by 33,000 in September, the first monthly decline in seven years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
That’s a notably different result than experts were predicting—even accounting for the hurricane impacts. Economists had expected an increase of 80,000 jobs. The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 4.2%, from August’s 4.4%.
Analysts do not expect the labor market to be affected for the long term by the storms. As businesses in impacted states like Texas and Florida reopen, the decline should reverse itself. (And, as with any monthly jobs report, they could be revised at a later time.)
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Restaurants and bars took the biggest hit, with 105,000 jobs disappearing. Normally, the sector has been adding about 24,000 jobs per month.
While Hurricane Maria has resulted in widespread unemployment in Puerto Rico, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not include data from the island in its monthly reports. If it did, Friday’s decline would have been significantly higher.