The US economy lost 33,000 jobs last month, even as the unemployment rate declined slightly - and, oddly, the workforce expanded. Over the past 12 months, the economy has added an average of 172,000 jobs each month.
Even if wage inflation is weaker than the report suggests, economists said they did not see anything in the September report to dissuade the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates before the end of the year, as expected.
That's a sign that the low unemployment rate is pulling more Americans off the sidelines and back into the job market.
That's the highest number in 20 years.
The United States' almost seven-year streak of job growth came to an end in September, as employers cut 33,000 jobs.
Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services said: "Although the headline number for September is loss of jobs, the first in seven years, the labour market remains in good shape".
Friday's report overall sent conflicting signals about the labor market, in part because its based on separate surveys-one of employers, the other of households-that don't always align precisely in any given month by typically point in the same direction over the longer term. Underlying job growth is nearly twice the growth in the labor force and unemployment is falling fast. Bloomberg was calling for the rate to remain flat at the 4.4% rate reported for August. Employees who weren't paid during the Labor Department's survey week (of September 12) were not counted as employed.More news: Akhilesh Yadav re-elected SP chief for 5 years
If a worker doesn't receive any pay for the survey pay period, which is in the middle of the month, the Labor Department considers that person unemployed.
The decline is despite the unemployment rate falling to 4.2 per cent, a 16-year low. That trend was probably inflated by the loss of so many lower-paid workers in hurricane-hit areas.
Job gains occurred in health care, which added 23,000 new jobs and transportation, which increased by 22,000 jobs. "We're going to make up for it late 2017 and early 2018".
As a result, the nation's labor participation rate - the most critical employment indicator of them all - climbed 0.2 percent to 63.1 percent.
The storms' effects are easy to detect in the underlying figures.
With that said, BLS says the hurricanes made no notable impact on the employment report other than reducing the estimate of total non-farm payroll employment for the month.