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Economy loses 33,000 jobs in September

U.S. employment fell by 33,000 jobs in September as a sharp decline in the leisure and hospitality sector and below-trend growth in other industries probably reflected the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Department of Labor said today.

The decline in the number of workers on payrolls was the first since 2010. Leisure and hospitality employment dropped by 105,000 in September because many workers were off payrolls because of the hurricanes.

“I don’t think this is indicative of problems in the labor market — it’s because of the hurricanes,” Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg.

Faucher said that apart from the effects of the storms, “the economy is in decent shape, the labor market continues to improve, and we’ll bounce back to job growth in the final three months of 2017.”

The department said the hurricanes had “no discernible effect on the national unemployment rate.” It fell to 4.2 percent, the lowest since February of 2001. The number of unemployed people declined by 331,000, to 6.8 million.

The department said the economy had added an average of 172,000 jobs a month during the prior 12 months. The government revised its job reports for July and August, and the combined figures showed that the economy gained 38,000 fewer jobs than was previously reported.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged in September at 1.7 million and accounted for 25.5 percent of the unemployed.

The government said the employment-population ratio increased by 0.3 percentage point, to 60.4 percent in September, and has increased by 0.6 percentage point during the past 12 months. The labor force participation rate, at 63.1 percent, changed little during the month and has shown little movement during the year.

The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed, at 5.1 million, in September. Those people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs.

In September 1.6 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 275,000 from a year earlier. The data are not seasonally adjusted. Those people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job at some time during the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work during the four weeks that preceded the survey.

In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 12 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $26.55. During the past 12 months average hourly earnings have increased by 74 cents, or 2.9 percent.

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