Climate Hurricane Harvey and Irma may have cost US 200,000 jobs

  • Published on October 8th, 2017

Last month, after having tweeted since February how great job creation has been since he took over at the White House, Donald Trump went silent on the weak August jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This morning likewise as the bureau reported a loss of 33,000 jobs, the worst month in job growth since September 2010 when 52,000 jobs were shed. This reflects the impacts of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and in Florida from Hurricane Irma, as can be seen by the huge loss of jobs in employment at eating and drinking establishments. Most analysts will likely view this report as an outlier.

US jobs report september 2017By Meteor Blades

The Department of Labor says that FEMA-designated disaster counties from the hurricanes represent about 7.7 percent of the overall U.S. labor force.

Acting BLS Commissioner William J. Wiatrowski reported:

In September, a sharp employment decline in food services and drinking places and below-trend growth in some other industries likely reflected the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The storms caused large-scale evacuations and severe damage to many homes and businesses. 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. Many employees in areas affected by the hurricanes were likely off payrolls during the reference pay period for September.

Imagine what Republicans would say if this many jobs had been lost with Obama in the White House so deep into a recovery.

The most-used unemployment rate—the “headline” rate—fell to 4.2 percent in September, the BLS reported.

Both full-time and part-time positions are included in the bureau’s surveys. A person who has worked a single hour a week during the survey period is counted as employed. The survey period ends around the 12th of each month, so the September report released this morning actually covers the last half of August and the first half of September, not September alone.

Wages, which have risen far more slowly than economists expect them to at this stage of a recovery, made a significant rise. Compared with last September, the year-over-year gain was 74 cents, a 2.9 percent rise against an annual inflation rate of 1.9 percent.

The consensus of experts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal ahead of the BLS release was for 80,000 new jobs and an unchanged unemployment rate of 4.4 percent.

The private sector lost 40,000 jobs in September,  the public sector gained 7,000. As usual, the calculation was arrived though analysis of the Current Employment Survey of 147,000 business establishments. The loss marked the end of 83 consecutive months of job growth. Overall, the economic expansion has lasted 98 months, job growth always lagging well behind growth in gross domestic product.

Each month, the bureau revises its estimates of job growth or loss of previous two months because it has more complete data than it did when those numbers were first released. For August, the revision was from 156,000 to 169,000 jobs, and for July went from 189,000 to 138,,000

The unemployment rate is calculated from the Current Population Survey of 60,000 households. The September “headline rate,” which is the most commonly reported upon and which the BLS labels U3—came in, as noted, at 4.2 percent. That’s down by 0.2 point from last month, still the lowest rate in 16 years. In the past quarter century, the lowest the rate reached was 3.8 percent in April 2000.

Besides U3, the bureau calculates unemployment for groups other than those simply looking for a job. One category is labeled U6, the most inclusive measure of “labor underutilitization.” This covers both unemployment and underemployment. In September, U6 was 8.3 percent. Its pre-recession low was 8 percent in March 2007, but it was lower than that earlier in the 2000s, reaching 6.9 percent in mid-2001. A crucial component of the U6 tally consists of part-time workers who want—but cannot find—full-time positions. More than 5 million Americans who would like full-time work have only been able to find part-time positions.

Unemployment rates differ by race and sex. For U3: Adult men:  3.9 percent; Adult women:  3.9 percent; Whites: 3.7 percent; Blacks: 7.0 percent; Asians: 3.7 percent; Hispanics: 5.1 percent; American Indians: (not counted monthly).

Between February 2008 and December 2009, the Great Recession caused a net loss of 8.8 million jobs. Since then, the economy has made a net gain of 12.3 million new jobs.

The civilian workforce rose in September by 575,000 after rising by 77,000 in August and 349,000 in July. The labor force participation rate rose to 63.1 percent, and the employment-population ratio rose 0.3 to 60.4 percent.

The bureau also calculates the employment-population ratio for people age 25 to 54. This age group is the most likely of any to be employed, making this large cohort of the populace a key marker of America’s economic health. In 1999, this age group reached its highest employment-population ratio—81.8 percent. It hit its lowest point—74.8 percent—in November 2010 during the Great Recession. Since then, it’s been slowly rising. In September it rose 0.5 point to 78.9 percent.

Additional details from the report:

Hours & Wages:

 Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose 9 cents an hour to $22.23 in September.
 Average work week for all employees on non-farm payrolls remained unchanged in September at 34.4 hours.
 Average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose 12 cents an hour in September to $26.55.
 The manufacturing work week in September remained unchanged at 40.7 hours.

Job Gains and Losses for selected categories:

  • Professional services: 13,000
    • Temporary help services: 5,900
  • Transportation & warehousing: 21,800
  • Financial activities: 10,000
  • Leisure & hospitality: -111,000
  • Information: -9,000
  • Education and health services: 27,000
    • Health care & social assistance: 13,100
  • Retail trade: -2,900
  • Construction: 8,000
  • Manufacturing: -1.000
  • Mining and Logging: 2,000

Here’s what the seasonally adjusted job growth numbers have looked like in the previous 10 years compared with this September’s loss of 33,000 jobs.

September 2007:    88,000
September 2008: -450,000
September 2009: -220,000
September 2010:   -52,000
September 2011:  248,000
September 2012:  203,000
September 2013:  190,000
September 2014:  280,000
September 2015:  100,000
September2016:   249,000

(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)

About the Author

Meteor Blades is a writer and contributing editor at DailyKos. He believes there is something profoundly wrong with our system. - the unchecked accumulation of wealth and power into the hands of a very small group of corporate business interests has contributed to the wholesale corruption of our political system. For an understanding about the level of corruption in our country, he encourages you to view these two PBS documentaries: (1). ,The Untouchables; (2) The United States of ALEC.