September Job Losses First in Seven Years

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The nation’s jobless rate in September was 4.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, down 0.2 percent from August. But firms shed 33,000 net jobs, with 104,700 lost in bars and restaurants alone, a separate survey shows. The agency said that reflected the impact of hurricanes. It was the first monthly job loss in seven years.

The number of unemployed declined by 331,000 to 6.8 million, BLS said. There was little change in the number of jobs in factories (-1,000), construction (+8,000) and government (+7,000 jobs, almost all in local government).

BLS said the job losses were apparently confined to the Southeastern states, and Tropical Storm Nate is headed their way, as of October 6. But bar and restaurant job losses also led to higher workers’ pay year-on-year, as that’s the lowest-paying occupation of all.

Neither the jobless rate nor overall numbers include Puerto Rico, smashed to smithereens by Hurricane Maria two weeks ago. Even before the storm, joblessness there was 10.4 percent, a separate lagging survey shows.

“Even accounting for hurricanes, such a loss…is still concerning for an economy still recovering” from the Great Recession, said Economic Policy Institute analyst Elise Gould. “We are still not at genuine full employment.”        

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