(CN) – Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria slammed the U.S. economy in September, leading to the first net job losses since 2010, the Labor Department said on Friday.
The government said the labor market lost 33,000 jobs last month, though the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent, the lowest in 16 years.
The trio of major hurricanes last month devastated parts of Texas and Florida and all of Puerto Rico, weighing heavily on jobs.
In a statement, William Wiatrowski, the acting commissioner for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, explained that during the survey week, which includes the 12th of the month, “many employees in areas affected by the hurricanes were likely off payrolls.”
Economists agreed and said the monthly decline is temporary and the underlying job market remains strong.
Friday’s report also revised down previous estimates of job growth in August and July, trimming those numbers by 38,000.
The economy has added an average of 172,000 jobs a month over the past year, but that has dropped to a 91,000 average over the past three months.
But a survey of U.S. households showed that employment grew by a 906,000 in September, helping push down the jobless rate to the lowest level since February 2001.
The household survey is an estimate of employed Americans, not of total jobs, and covers those who wouldn’t show up on a payroll, such as the self-employed.