How hurricanes could distort September jobs numbers

US Jobless Claims fall 12000 to 260000

Ahead of Friday's jobs report the Bureau of Labor Statistics said some 11.2 million workers lived in the affected areas, about 7.7% of the U.S. workforce. September unemployment dropped to 4.2 percent, despite a jump in the labor force participation rate and robust labor force growth. The manufacturing sector shed 1,000 jobs after averaging gains of 14,000 new jobs each month since November 2016. The national jobless rate dropped to 4.2 percent in September, which is the lowest since February of 2001, at the start of President George W. Bush's Administration. Treasuries came under further selling pressure with the 10-year contract declining over 10 ticks to yield 2.39% while equity futures were slightly lower. Over the course of the past year, average hourly earnings have increased by 74 cents. This comes on the heels of an exceptionally good month prior (August) in which 7,000 mining jobs were added, with the largest chunk (6,800) coming in support activities for mining. The U.S. Labor Department says 33,000 jobs were lost in September because of the two storms. Combined with this month's numbers puts the average for the past three months at +91,000 net jobs created, the weakest we've seen that average for quite some time. The broadest measure of unemployment is known as the U6 rate, which includes all unemployed, those who are working part time while looking for a full time job, and those who aren't looking now for a job - but still want one, and have worked in the a year ago.

All those people fleeing south Florida to escape Hurricane Irma was bound to depress the number of Americans who were at work in September. That's true even if those employees return to work after the storm passes.

Economists knew that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma would result in a hit to growth numbers, but still expected an increase of 90,000 jobs. "We're going to make up for it late 2017 and early 2018". They could have been skewed, however, by the fact that many low-wage employees stayed away from work after the hurricanes.

Overall, 152 million people are employed in non-agricultural industries, 122.1 million of them in private industry, 20.9 million in government, and 8.9 million are self-employed in unincorporated enterprises. Higher-paid workers likely disproportionately boosted the wage figure.

Puerto Rico, the United States territory also devastated by the hurricanes, is not counted in the jobs report.

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