Storm Impact May Mute September Job Report, but Not Trade War

Economists’ consensus calls for a 168,000  gain in employment, more tepid than the current trend.

The September jobs report should be a more muted gain of 168,000, according to forecasters polled by MarketWatch. The primary culprit: Hurricane Florence. The economists also expect the unemployment rate to drop to 3.8%, from 3.9%.

Now, 168,000 is far from shabby, as Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. Announced on Friday, the jobs report would be the year’s third lowest, after the 147,000 increase in July and the 155,000 one in March. The August report showed 201,000 positions added.

Indeed, as Joseph Brusuelas, RSM chief economist, pointed out, initial predictions for September 2017 were for a 25,000 loss owing to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—and the month ended up with a 14,000 gain. These two storms were far worse than Florence, which slammed into the Atlantic coast, primarily affecting the Carolinas. He thinks the September report will be for 160,000 jobs.

At this point, there is no indication of the trade war with China harming US job growth. “The three-month average pace of trade and transport hiring is 14,000 new jobs per month,” Brusuelas said.

Because the US exports far less to the Chinese than China does to America, the pain thus far appears to be confined to China. Already, China’s economy was slowing when the tariff tit-for-tat began, and the US’s was strengthening.

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