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BLS: Hurricanes skew national job numbers

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Officials cited the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey for a 33,000-job drop in the nation’s nonfarm payroll employment levels.

William Wiatrowski, acting commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, said the hurricanes struck during the agency’s survey period, leading to a manipulation of the data.

“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,” he said in a statement. “Many employees in areas affected by the hurricanes were likely off payrolls during the reference pay period for September.”

The U.S. unemployment rate improved last month to 4.2 percent from 4.4 percent in August, according to a news release.

Beyond the 105,000 jobs missing in food and drinking places, most of the country’s major industries were unaffected.

Industry highlights:
    •    health care added 23,000 jobs;
    •    transportation and warehousing rose by 22,000;
    •    professional and business services was up 13,000; and
    •    financial activities moved up 10,000.

Manufacturing lost 1,000 jobs last month, while other industries such as mining and construction were relatively unchanged, according to the release.

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