Published: Sat, October 07, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

US unemployment rate drops 4.2%, lowest since 2001

US unemployment rate drops 4.2%, lowest since 2001

USA employment data showed that 33,000 jobs were lost during the month of September as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall, causing severe damage and loss of life in Texas and Florida and surrounding areas. And the economy had added new jobs for 83 straight months.

The unemployment rate is at 4.2 percent, and the number of unemployed persons is at 6.8 million, which is 0.2 percentage points down from the previous month's 4.4 percent unemployment rate and 7 million unemployed persons. The national unemployment rate ticked down from 4.4% to 4.2%, the lowest level since 2001. In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 12 cents to $26.55. In fact, the proportion of adults who have jobs rose to 60.4 percent, the highest since January 2009. The 0.5% monthly increase in earnings may have been distorted by a dip in low-paid employees due to hurricane damage, but the data overall will increase confidence of acceleration and an increase in the inflation rate.

It seems a little risky to rely on data that shows an increase of nearly a million jobs in a month.

Even when factoring in the damage from the two major hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas, the Trump economy did worse than projected as the economy lost jobs for the first time since 2010.

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The monthly data is based on a survey of households.

The underemployment rate, which captures both those that are unemployment and folks who are working part-time but would prefer full-time employment, fell in September to 8.3%. That survey counted people as employed even if they were temporarily out of work because of the storms.

Wage growth also picked up in September, which is consistent with the increasing difficulty employers are having filling open job positions, although the gain is probably a bit overstated due to the storm-induced decline in lower-paying retail and hospitality jobs. "We're going to make up for it late 2017 and early 2018".

The civilian labor force participation rate was 63.1%, an improvement from August's 62.9% rate.

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Offshore oil-drilling rigs are already shuttering ahead of the coming Tropical Storm Nate, which is estimated to affect a quarter-million barrels of oil per day.

The figures are closely monitored by policy makers at the Federal Reserve as a way to determine underlying trends and future economic strategy.

Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria, is not included in the BLS report.

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