Hurricanes Take a Toll, but an Unemployment Milestone

Unemployment at 4.2%, the lowest since 2001
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 6, 2017 7:50 AM CDT
Unemployment Hits Lowest Level in 16 Years
A recruiter with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation looks at a resume during a job fair in San Jose, Calif., in this file photo.   (Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The new jobs report is a case of good news/bad news. The US lost 33,000 jobs in September after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit Texas, Florida, and other Southeastern states, which the AP reports is the first decline in almost seven years. However, the Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell to 4.2% from 4.4%, the lowest level since February 2001. So what's going on? "Friday's report overall sent conflicting signals about the labor market, in part because it's based on separate surveys—one of employers, the other of households—that don’t always align precisely in any given month [but] typically point in the same direction over the longer term," explains the Wall Street Journal.

Looking past the hurricanes' impact, the job market and economy generally look healthy, per the AP. Some economists expect job growth to rebound in the coming months as businesses in the area reopen and construction companies ramp up repair and renovation work. "People will write off the weak number because of the hurricanes," one economist tells the New York Times. "The underlying trend is still pretty strong." One good sign was that average hourly earnings, an important barometer, rose nearly 0.5%, though the Journal notes that if the hurricanes temporarily wiped out a lot of minimum wage jobs in the services industry, that would drive the overall number up. Next month will be a truer test. (More jobs report stories.)

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