Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

U.S. loses 33,000 jobs because of hurricanes, first decline in six years. But unemployment falls

In this Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, photo, Phil Wiggett, right, a recruiter with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, looks at a resume during a job fair in San Jose, Calif. On Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, the U.S. government issues the September jobs report. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) CAMS501

In this Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, photo, Phil Wiggett, right, a recruiter with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, looks at a resume during a job fair in San Jose, Calif. On Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, the U.S. government issues the September jobs report. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) CAMS501

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last month, the first decline in six years. But the unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.2 percent.

Analysts had been expecting job growth to slump in September after the one-two punch from the hurricanes. But this was worse than expected.

Average hourly wages rose 12 cents last month to $26.55, up 2.9 percent from a year ago.

The government's monthly jobs report, released Friday morning, offers the first glimpse at how workers and companies are faring in the aftermath of the storms, which slammed Texas and Florida.

Economists had estimated the nation would add about 75,000 jobs last month, landing in the five-figure range for the first time in half a year. They expected the unemployment rate to hold steady at 4.4 percent and for wages to inch upward.

The two hurricanes, which made landfall in late August and September, took a toll on job creation - although analysts were mixed on whether the effects would be permanent.

"There's going to be a huge residual impact for months, maybe years afterward," said Christine Short, vice president of media and public relations at Estimize, a financial estimates group. "The hurricanes put tens of thousands of people out of work."

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits hit a two-year high in the first week of September (298,000).

Robert Frick, corporate economist for Navy Federal Credit Union, said the surge of storms will have a bigger impact on jobs than researchers previously expected.

"It could easily knock 40,000 or 50,000 jobs off the total," he said.

This devastation won't drag down the broader economy, Frick predicted. Researchers expect October's numbers to reflect a rebound, thanks in part to the rising demand for construction workers and plumbers and electricians to repair hurricane damage.

The storms will make it harder for analysts to take an accurate reading of the country's economic temperature through the rest of the year, since it's tough to untangle short-term effects from other factors.

"It's going to fuzz up the numbers," Frick said. "I hope the noise gets shaken out over the next two months."

But there's no reason to believe the country is drifting away from healthy growth, said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.

This year, the economy has added an average of 175,000 jobs each month. It needs to produce 100,000 just to keep up with population growth.

As for September, analysts forecast that the average number of hours worked stayed about the same, while earnings will tick up 0.3 percent - a 2.6 percent jump from this time last year.

"We want to believe that underlying trend remains intact," Hamrick said. "We expect the economy is sufficiently robust to continue to absorb the remaining slack in the workforce, and no one knows how much slack remains."

In May, the unemployment rate dipped to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent - meaning that, theoretically, almost everyone who wants a job could find one. It inched up to 4.4 percent last month, but employers nationwide are still complaining about labor shortages, saying job-seekers lack the skills they need.

Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at the consultancy RSM, said that in storm-hit areas like Beaumont, Texas, and the Florida Keys, companies are already struggling to find workers who can pass a drug test, use tools and operate machinery.

"There is not a significant surplus of labor ready to re-enter the workforce to take relatively higher paying construction jobs that will be available in Houston and across much of Florida," he said in an email. "The likely economic narrative going forward will be: Where are all the workers necessary to rebuild?"

U.S. loses 33,000 jobs because of hurricanes, first decline in six years. But unemployment falls 10/06/17 [Last modified: Saturday, October 7, 2017 1:39am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921
  2. Long day of diplomacy: Tillerson visits Afghanistan, Iraq

    Military

    BAGHDAD — Far from the Washington murmurs about his future, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to two of America's enduring war zones Monday, prodding leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq to reach out to longtime rivals.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, speaks Monday at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, accompanied by Gen. John Nicholson, left, and Special Charge d’Affaires Amb. Hugo Llorens.
  3. Head-on crash kills Wesley Chapel teacher and Zephyrhills man

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Two men, including a high school math teacher, were killed Monday in a head-on crash on Morris Bridge Road, deputies said.

    Shackelford
  4. Pinellas sees slight increase in black and first-year teachers

    Blogs

    A year after the Pinellas County school district was chastised in a state report for clustering inexperienced teachers in the state's most struggling schools, the district has reported a first look at its teacher corps.

    The Pinellas County school district has taken a first look at first-year teachers in struggling schools and minority hiring, both of which ticked slightly upward.
  5. Editorial: Trump owes apology to fallen soldier's Miami family

    Editorials

    There is no more sacred, solemn role for a president than to comfort grieving family members of soldiers who have given their lives in service of their country. Those calls cannot be easy, and some presidents are better at it than others. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration continue to engage in a …