Payroll employment dropped by 33,000 in September, the first time in six years that employment slipped into the red. Disruptions created by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were the primary reason for the weakness. Private sector job losses offset some public sector gains, which is not surprising given the number of federal, state and local officials who worked around the clock once the storms hit.
The largest job losses occurred in the service sector where power outages and ongoing flood clean-up disrupted business. The leisure and hospitality sector alone lost more than 100,000 jobs, almost entirely at food services and drinking places. Jobs at nursing homes were affected, which is not be a surprise given the number of patients moved as Hurricane Irma approached Florida.