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U.S. Employment: Mostly Slow Growth Despite Hurricanes

Fast food dishwasherAccording to the US BLS, the sector breakdown for September included some interesting gains and losses:


Food services dropped by a fairly steep -105,000 jobs, which the Summary attributes to workers “off payrolls due to the recent hurricanes.” Manufacturing was down by 1,000 jobs for September as well.
Health care added 23,000 jobs, and transportation and housing added 22,000 jobs.
Employment in financial activities increased by +10,000 jobs, of which 11,000 jobs added at insurance carriers and related activities accounted for most of the bump, offset by losses in credit intermediation (-4,000 jobs) and commercial banking (-3,000 jobs).
Professional and business services grew by a slight 13,000 jobs, down strongly from the 50,000 monthly average for the preceding 12-month period.
Other major sectors, namely, mining, construction, wholesale and retail trades, information, and government were mostly flat.


Thus, most of the job losses appear to fall directly on food services and drinking establishments, in line with reductions related to the hurricanes and their impacts on the Caribbean, Gulf and southeastern Atlantic coasts.


With Hurricanes Maria and Nate also impacting the U.S. mainland and Caribbean territories more recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see modest job losses or mostly absent growth for October as well, when those numbers become available next month.


When Mother Nature puts her thumb on the employment scales, we can expect them to move to lighten growth until post-recovery cleanup efforts kick into high gear, with construction most likely to benefit (and food services likely to rebound as well).



ed-tittel120Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed blogs on certification topics for Tom’s IT Pro, and on Windows desktop OS topics for TechTarget. Check out his website at