The September jobs report was a doozy, with the US economy losing jobs for the first time since September 2010.
The net loss of 33,000 jobs was surprising, with economists expecting an addition of 80,000. While there was weakness across the economy, the sudden drop in employment was especially concentrated in one sector.
The hospitality and leisure industry lost 111,000 jobs in the month of September, making it the largest loss for the sector since the start of the jobs report in 1939.
Within the hospitality industry, food service jobs were particularly impacted with a net decline of 105,000 jobs, also a record since the BLS started tracking those jobs in 1990.
The most likely explanation for the loss of jobs in the sector is the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The BLS cited the impact of the storms as a reason for the drop in jobs.
“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,” said a statement from William J. Wiatrowski, the BLS’ acting commissioner.
Leisure and hospitality jobs make up a large chunk of the employment in the states that were hit by the hurricanes. According to a 2010 BLS study, the industry made up 14.8% of total employment in the Gulf Coast states, higher than the 12.4% for the US.