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U.S. loses 33,000 jobs in September after hurricanes slam Texas, Florida

Homes are submerged by the flooded Brazos River in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey near Freeport, Texas. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)
Homes are submerged by the flooded Brazos River in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey near Freeport, Texas. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma walloped the labor market last month, causing the nation to lose jobs for the first time in seven years, the Labor Department said Friday.

Total nonfarm employment declined by 33,000 net jobs in September compared with an upwardly revised gain of 169,000 the previous month. The Labor Department said 1.5 million workers — the most in 20 years — were not at their jobs during the survey week last month because of bad weather.

Restaurants and bars took the biggest hit. Total employment in September declined by 105,000 “as many workers were off payrolls due to the recent hurricanes,” the Labor Department said.

The sector had averaged job growth of 24,000 over the previous 12 months.

Analysts had expected the major hurricanes that devastated large parts of Texas and Florida would significantly reduce job growth in September, but the decline was much bigger than expected.

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