Business

Where Americans lost jobs: Restaurants and retailers

Where Americans lost jobs: Restaurants and retailers

This was the first monthly job loss since September 2010.

The unemployment rate, which is calculated differently, declined to 4.2 percent in September, from 4.4 percent the previous month.

Data junkies here's your fix: the September U-6 (the broadest measure of unemployment) fell to 8.3 percent due to a decline in the base unemployment rate and fewer individuals marginally attached to the labor force.

Last month, there were 1.6 million people considered marginally attached to the labor force, meaning they are available for work and want a job, but are not now in the labor force. The employment rate of prime-age (25- to 54-year-old) workers, another closely watched indicator in this recovery, climbed from 78.4 to 78.9 percent, the highest since July 2008. Overall, there were ten sectors that added jobs for the month and five decliners.

Although 33,000 jobs were lost during September - defying expectations of an 80,000 gain - the data could well be amended in the months to come as the effects of the two hurricanes become better profiled. The BLS report, though, said the net effects of Hurricane Harvey in Texas in August and Hurricane Irma in Florida last month reduced the employment figures for September.

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Interestingly, while this dynamic temporarily whacks jobs, it artificially boosts wage growth. In the establishment survey, employees who are not paid for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month are not counted as employed.

If a worker doesn't receive any pay for the survey pay period, which is in the middle of the month, the Labor Department considers that person unemployed. Another positive was that the labor force participation rate rose to 63.1% in September from 62.9% in August.

So wages may not go down all that much even as more restaurant and bar employees head back to work. If it did, Friday's decline would have been significantly higher.

As a result of damages from rainfall and heavy flooding due to Hurricane Harvey, CB&I was forced to close its fabrication services shop in Beaumont. But this spike reflects the fact that lower-paid workers tend to be the ones not paid when they can't get to work, and thus they dropped out of the average wage calculations last month. Maria, which hammered Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, could cost $45 billion to $95 billion, though that is a preliminary estimate.

"History tells us hurricane-related job losses are likely to recover quickly and we expect above-trend [hiring] numbers by the end of the year", said James Ragan, director of individual investor group research at D.A. Davidson & Co.


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