The economy shrunk by 33,000 jobs in September while unemployment fell to 4.2 percent, according to closely-watched data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It was the first payroll contraction since September 2010.
The numbers were much worse than expected. Economists had expected payrolls to grow by 100,000 and unemployment rate to hold steady. September was the first employment report to register the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Over the past 12 months, the economy has added an average of 172,000 jobs each month.
The storms’ effects are easy to detect in the underlying figures. Bars and restaurants lost 105,000 jobs, for example. These had been adding around 24,000 each month over the past year. Insurance companies added 11,000 jobs, largely reflecting hurricane-recovery efforts.
Prior jobs reports were revised for August and July, showing that the economy added 38,000 fewer jobs in those two months combined than previously reported.
Stock markets futures declined following the release of the report.