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Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

                          Statement of
                      William J. Wiatrowski
                       Acting Commissioner
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics

                     Friday, October 6, 2017

      The unemployment rate declined to 4.2 percent in September. 
Nonfarm payroll employment changed little (-33,000), after 
adding an average of 172,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 
months. 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.
      Employment is measured differently in the household survey; 
people with jobs are counted as employed even if they miss work 
for the entire survey reference week (the week including the 
12th of the month), regardless of whether they are paid. In 
September, 1.5 million workers had a job but were not at work 
for the entire reference week due to bad weather, the highest 
level for this series over the past 20 years. This series is 
highly sensitive to the timing of weather events and thus does 
not capture the immediate effect of all such events on the job 
      Data collection rates in both the establishment and 
household surveys generally were within normal ranges in 
September, both nationally and in the hurricane-affected states. 
Also, no changes were made to either the establishment or 
household survey estimation procedures for the September 
figures. (The national estimates do not include Puerto Rico or 
the U.S. Virgin Islands.)
      Looking at some of the industry detail from the 
establishment survey, employment in food services and drinking 
places declined by 105,000 in September. In this industry, a 
large majority of workers are not paid when they are absent from 
work. Hence, if these employees were unable to work during the 
September survey reference pay period because they had 
evacuated, or because their establishments were not open for 
business due to power failures or other effects of the 
hurricanes, they were not included on September payrolls. Over 
the 12 months prior to September, food services and drinking 
places had added an average of 24,000 jobs per month.
      Health care employment increased by 23,000 in September, in 
line with the average monthly job gain over the prior 12 months. 
Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 22,000 
in September.
      Payroll employment in other major industries, including 
mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail 
trade, information, financial activities, professional and 
business services, and government, changed little over the 
month. It is likely that employment in some of these industries 
was affected by the hurricanes, both in terms of employment 
declines due to the storms and job gains associated with 
recovery and rebuilding efforts. However, it is not possible to 
quantify precisely the net effect on employment in each 
      Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm 
payrolls increased by 12 cents in September. The change in 
earnings reflects both ongoing labor market trends and possible 
effects of the hurricanes. Over the past 12 months, average 
hourly earnings have risen by 2.9 percent. From August 2016 to 
August 2017, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers 
(CPI-U) increased by 1.9 percent (on a seasonally adjusted 
      Turning now to measures from the household survey, the 
unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 4.2 
percent in September. The number of unemployed persons declined 
by 331,000 to 6.8 million. We do not believe the hurricanes had 
a discernible effect on the national unemployment rate.
      Among the unemployed in September, 1.7 million had been 
searching for work for 27 weeks or more. These long-term 
unemployed accounted for 25.5 percent of the total unemployed.
      The labor force participation rate, at 63.1 percent, 
changed little in September and has shown little movement over 
the past year. The employment-population ratio rose by 0.3 
percentage point over the month to 60.4 percent and is up by 0.6 
percentage point over the year.
      Among employed people, the number working part time for 
economic reasons, also referred to as involuntary part-time 
workers, changed little in September at 5.1 million.
      Among those neither working nor looking for work in 
September, 1.6 million people were marginally attached to the 
labor force, 275,000 lower than a year earlier. Discouraged 
workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that 
no jobs were available for them, numbered 421,000 in September, 
down by 132,000 from a year earlier. (People who are marginally 
attached to the labor force had not looked for work in the 4 
weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, were available for 
work, and had looked for a job within the last 12 months.)
      Before summarizing, I would like to recognize the 
extraordinary efforts of our data collectors in gathering 
information from sample establishments and households in the 
areas affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Their extra 
efforts helped make it possible to obtain these important data 
on the September labor market.
      In summary, the unemployment rate declined to 4.2 percent 
in September, and nonfarm payroll employment changed little    
(-33,000). It is likely that the payroll employment estimates 
for September were lower due to the effects of Hurricanes Irma 
and Harvey. We may learn more about the hurricanes' impact when 
state employment and unemployment estimates become available on 
October 20, 2017.

Last Modified Date: October 06, 2017