Hurricanes Temper Job Growth in September
Even As Unemployment Rate Improves and Wages Rise

JOB GROWTH: The double whammy of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma put a dent in job growth in September. With 1.5 million people out of work (most temporarily) due to the storms, the economy registered a net loss of 33,000 jobs. This was the first month of negative growth since 2010.

TOP INDUSTRIES: With the restaurant industry a major employer in the states most impacted by the storms, the leisure and hospitality sector lost more than 100,000 jobs in September—its biggest loss since 1945. No significant growth was seen in any other sector.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The unemployment rate shaved another 0.2 percentage points in September, hitting its lowest level since 2001, coming in at 4.2 percent.

WAGES: One bright spot in an otherwise bleak jobs report was positive movement in payrolls. Average hourly earnings in September brought the average annual rate up to 2.9 percent.

WORK WEEK: The average work week was unchanged from last month’s 34.4 hours.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: Although job gains in the sector were reported to be flat in August, revised figures showed growth of 7,500 jobs that month. September growth of 5,900 jobs underscores continuing momentum on the contingent labor front.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The big news in September isn’t the loss of jobs, which is considered a fluke driven entirely by Mother Nature, it is rising wages and declining unemployment. Both signal a tighter labor market, in which employers are forced to open their wallets wider to attract increasingly difficult-to-secure talent.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, CNBC, Business Insider, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal.