Hurricanes Irma and Harvey Caused U.S. Economy to Lose Jobs in September

The September jobs report is out.

It showed that the US economy shed jobs for the first time since 2010, something the Bureau of Labor Statistics blamed on the damage caused by the hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

In a release Friday, the BLS said the hurricanes affected the payroll jobs number but not the unemployment rate.

“It is likely that the payroll employment estimates for September were lower due to the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey,” William J. Wiatrowski, the acting BLS commissioner, said in the release.

“The storms caused large-scale evacuations and severe damage to many homes and businesses,” he continued. “Many employees in the areas affected by the hurricanes were likely off payrolls during the reference pay period for September.” 

Nonfarm payrolls fell by 33,000 in September, according to the BLS. Most of the losses occurred in the leisure-and-hospitality sector. It shed 111,000 jobs, its most dating back to at least 1939.

Within that sector, the BLS drew attention to employment in food services and drinking places, which fell by 105,000 last month.

“In this industry, a large majority of workers are not paid when they are absent from work,” Wiatrowski said. “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.”

The unemployment rate fell to 4.2%, its lowest level since February 2001.

“Payrolls were hit hard by the hurricanes,” Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said. “We expect the recovery to begin in October, but if Katrina is any guide the big rebound won’t come until November.”

Irma made landfall during the September jobs report’s reference period, while Harvey hit before it. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are not included in the report.

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Tech

As Ford pushes into electric vehicles, U.S. union aims to save jobs

DETROIT (Reuters) – The United Auto Workers is talking with Ford Motor Co (F.N) about ways to avoid layoffs as the No. 2 U.S. automaker builds more electric vehicles, a senior union official told Reuters on Thursday.

Ford told investors Tuesday it planned to slash $ 14 billion in costs over the next five years and shift investments away from internal combustion engines and sedans to develop more trucks, plus electric and hybrid cars.

“We’ve been doing our due diligence to find out how much it (electrification) means to us,” UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, head of the union’s Ford department said in a telephone interview. “We put them on notice early on that we want to be part of this process.”

“Up to this point they (Ford) have been agreeable that it’s in the best interest of the company and also our members for us to be part of the process,” he added.

Ford’s push into electric comes after Detroit rival General Motors Co (GM.N) unveiled plans to add 20 new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023.

Ford’s presentation to investors this week under new chief executive Jim Hackett, included a slide touting a 30 percent reduction in “hours per unit” to build electric vehicles.

Fewer hours mean fewer workers.

German automaker Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) warned last month that electric Mercedes models would initially be just half as profitable as conventional alternatives – forcing the group to find savings by outsourcing more component manufacturing, which may in turn threaten German jobs.

The UAW’s Settles said he had met one-on-one with Hackett, a former CEO of office furniture maker Steelcase Inc (SCS.N) and in a meeting with union leaders in recent weeks.

He said Hackett’s message had been that he wants to find new opportunities for UAW workers as electrification evolves.

“The assembly may be different, but he’s not looking to eliminate any jobs,” Settles said of Hackett. “He’s been consistent in what he’s saying and I‘m optimistic he means it.”

The UAW vice president said the union and automaker had assembled teams to discuss future jobs, including for production workers and skilled trades workers, Settles said.

Settles said Ford’s announcement in March that it would invest $ 200 million on a new data center in Michigan could create new union-represented, technology-related jobs.

“We need further communications on what it means in terms of jobs,” he said.

Ford has completed 85 percent of its 2015 union contract target of creating or retaining 8,500 union jobs by 2019 and could hit 100 percent by the end of 2017, Settles said.

A Ford spokeswoman said the company and the UAW are in “constant communications about the business.”

Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Andrew Hay

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

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