The United States lost 33,000 jobs in September as the economy took a hit from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It was the first monthly decline in jobs in seven years.
The jobless rate dropped to 4.2%, the lowest since 2001.
Economists had been expecting an increase of 90,000 jobs, even after accounting for the hurricanes. But the economists and Labor Department expect the decline to be short-lived as employers closed by the storm in Houston and Florida are able to reopen.
There could be an increase in jobs in coming months due to the storms as homes and other buildings are repaired or rebuilt, and Americans buy cars and other items to replace those that were lost.
Even the drop in jobs reported in September could disappear in future revisions of the estimate as the Labor Department is able to collect information from businesses that it was unable to contact due to the storm.
The hurricanes already appear to have led to job creation in some parts of the economy.
The insurance industry added 10,900 jobs in September as claims adjusters were hired to assess the damage. And building supply stores was by far the strongest segment of retailing. Those stores added 5,300 jobs, even as retailing overall lost 2,900 in the month.