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U.S. economy loses jobs in September for first time since 2010

The jobs report is out and it’s a weird one.

In September, the economy lost 33,000 jobs while the unemployment rate fell to a new post-crisis low of 4.2%.

This is the first negative print for headline payroll gains since September 2010 while the unemployment rate is now at its lowest level since February 2001. Friday’s report also broke a 90-month streak of private sector job growth.

Economists had expected that nonfarm payrolls would grow by 80,000 during the month with the unemployment rate expected to remain steady at 4.4%. This report, however, was impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The unemployment rate is at a post-crisis low, but the U.S. economy actually lost jobs in September for the first time since 2010. (Source: BLS)

In its release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, “A sharp employment decline in food services and drinking places and below-trend growth in some other industries likely reflected the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.” Looking at job gains by industry in September, the leisure and hospitality industry lost a striking 111,000 jobs in September.

Federal Reserve officials had also made clear in recent weeks that they would look past any distortions to this number caused by the hurricane. Following the report, markets were putting a 75% chance on the Fed raising rates at its December meeting.

A bright spot in the report was average hourly earnings, which in September jumped sharply higher, rising 0.5% over the prior month and 2.9% over the prior year.

But this chart from the BLS really tells the whole story of Friday’s report.

The leisure and hospitality industry was crushed in September as hurricanes Irma and Harvey hit Florida and Texas. (Source: BLS)

The labor force participation rate rose in September to 63.1% from 62.9% in August. This number has been tracked by economists for signs of the labor market drawing in workers who were left behind after the financial crisis.

The underemployment rate, which captures both those that are unemployment and folks who are working part-time but would prefer full-time employment, fell in September to 8.3%. Gary Cohn, President Trump’s chief economic advisor, has said the administration is focused on bringing this number down.

But again, this report is all about what the impact of two major hurricanes had on the economies of Texas and Florida.

“Our analysis suggests that the net effect of these hurricanes was to reduce the estimate of total nonfarm payroll employment for September,” the BLS said.

The BLS added, however, that the hurricanes had “no discernible effect” on the national unemployment rate. The hurricanes also did not cause the BLS to change its method for estimating either the establishment or household survey data for the report.

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

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