It took three hurricanes to stall the momentum in the jobs market, but in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, in September the U.S. economy saw its first drop in the number of jobs since September 2010. This breaks the historic 83-month run of monthly expansion in the jobs market. That was the longest streak since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began its jobs survey in the 1930s.
Payrolls fell 33,000 for the month. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected an increase of 75,000.
The official unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey of households, dropped to 4.2% in September from 4.4% in August. That’s the lowest level since February 2001. (Economists were expecting the unemployment rate to hold steady at 4.4%.)
Today the stock market has been mostly willing to look past the September results, figuring on past experience that the September drop is likely to be temporary. Following Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago, the economy showed two very soft jobs numbers before rebounding to the pre-storm trend.
It has also helped the markets that average hourly earnings rose by 0.5% from August after a 0.2% increase in that month. The year over year rate of increase in hourly average earnings climbed to 2.9%.