Oct 6, 6:40 AM EDT

US hurricane damage likely depressed job growth in September

AP Photo
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Latest Business News
Rates on US Treasury bills climb at weekly auction

Source: Trump to meet with Yellen to discuss Fed job

Sears' shares fall after key shareholder plans to quit board

How major US stock indexes fared on Monday

US stock indexes post slight gains, extending winning streak

A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
US retail sales leapt 1.6 pct. last month, most in 2 years

IMF: World economy is picking up speed

As Brexit looms, UK exports to EU getting more important

UK economy resilient to Brexit impasse in late summer

Highlights of AP interview with Nobel winner Richard Thaler

A snapshot of Nobel economics winner Richard Thaler

Nobel goes to Richard Thaler, who made economics human again

The Latest: For 2nd year, no women among Nobel winners

Richard Thaler wins Nobel for work in behavioral economics

German factory production rises in August, allaying fears

Interactive about job growth
Quiz for Older Job Seekers
Who Has Lost the Jobs? A State by State Look
Greece's Debt Threatens to Spread
State budget
gaps map
Auto industry problems trickle down, punish Tennessee county
Women give old Derby hats a makeover in tough economy
S.C. town deals with highest unemployment in South
How mortgages were bundled and sold as securities
Tracking the $700 billion financial bailout
Tracking the year's job losses
State-by-state foreclosures since 2007
Credit crisis explained
Presidents and their economic legacies
Lexicon of the financial crisis
Americans' addiction to debt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The September jobs report the government will release Friday morning will probably show a sharp drop in hiring compared with August because of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The two storms inflicted heavy damage in Texas, Florida and other parts of the Southeast. Thousands of businesses had to shut their doors, leaving many people temporarily out of work.

Economists have forecast that employers added just 80,000 jobs last month, barely half the 156,000 they added in August, according to data provider FactSet. That would be the lowest job gain since March.

But the storms will likely be the reason for the decline. Economists at JPMorgan Chase estimated the hurricanes will have lowered last month's gain by 75,000, meaning that without them, a solid 150,000 or so jobs would have been added.

A hiring rebound is expected for October or November as many businesses reopen and construction companies in the affected areas ramp up repair and renovation work.

If September's hiring does drop temporarily, and October's or November's rebounds, economists and the Federal Reserve may find it hard to assess the state of the economy with any precision over the next couple of months. Even so, most Fed watchers expect the central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate when it meets in December.

The Labor Department says about 11.2 million people had been employed in the 87 counties in Texas and Florida that were declared disaster areas. That's equal to about 7.7 percent of the nation's workforce. Hourly employees in the area who couldn't work and missed a paycheck would be counted as not working, thereby lowering the September job gain. That's true even if those employees return to work after the storm passes.

Excluding the hurricanes' effect on the monthly hiring data, several indicators suggest that the economy and the job market remain on firm footing.

On Wednesday, a survey of services firms - covering restaurants, construction companies, retail stores, banks and others - found that they expanded in September at their fastest monthly pace since 2005. That followed a survey of manufacturers, which found an equally strong gain. Factory activity expanded at the fastest pace in more than 13 years.

There are signs that a rebound from the hurricanes is already boosting the economy. Auto sales, which had been lackluster this year, jumped 6.1 percent to more than 1.5 million in September from a year ago, according to Autodata Corp., as Americans began to replace cars destroyed by the storms. That increase in purchases should soon lead automakers to step up production.

Harvey caused about $76 billion to $87 billion in economic losses, according to Moody's Analytics, an economic consulting firm. The estimate includes damage to homes and businesses as well as lost business and economic output. That calculation would make Harvey the second-worst U.S. natural disaster, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Irma will likely end up having caused $58 billion to $83 billion in economic losses, Moody's forecasts. Maria, which hammered Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, could cost $45 billion to $95 billion, though that is a preliminary estimate.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.