Harvey and Irma Took Our Jobs! U.S. Economy Lost 33K Jobs in September

A person reads a sign on a closed restaurant covered with chalkboard messages regarding Hurricane Irma in Flagler Beach, Fla., on Sept. 8, 2017. AP Photo/David Goldman
A person reads a sign on a closed restaurant covered with chalkboard messages regarding Hurricane Irma in Flagler Beach, Fla., on Sept. 8, 2017. AP Photo/David Goldman

September was the most active month for hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic in more than 30 years in terms of storm strength and duration.

While the month brought waves of destruction, it also brought an end to the seven-year streak of job gains for the economy. For the first time since September 2010, the U.S. shed jobs — roughly 33,000 — according to the September jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It is likely that the payroll employment estimates for September were lower due to the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey,” said the bureau’s acting commissioner, William Wiatrowski, in a statement.

It’s one of the few times that tropical cyclone activity has affected U.S. hiring since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005; employment reports following Hurricane Sandy and other storms since Katrina did not show a significant impact on employment.

The leisure and hospitality sector and, more specifically, the restaurant and bar industry took the biggest hit, with a loss of 104,700 jobs between August and September.  

On top of the jobs lost, 1.5 million people missed work due to the hurricanes for the entire week the statistics bureau was collecting its data, a 20-year record. That obviously doesn’t include those who hustled on the side to scrounge up cash during the emergency.

September Jobs Report Isn’t All Bad News

OK, now I’ll drop the economist Debbie Downer tone.

Despite the storm clouds over the latest jobs report, the unemployment rate ticked down to 4.2%, the lowest it has been in more than a decade.

And average wages increased 2.5% to $22.23 an hour in September, up from $21.68 in September 2016.

So chin up, America! And if you do happen to be one of the workers who lost their jobs because of the hurricanes, keep an eye on The Penny Hoarder Jobs page on Facebook for tons of new opportunities.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.