The US economy lost jobs in September for the first time since 2011

Emma Haslett
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Massive Hurricane Irma Bears Down On Florida
The figure has hit by a series of hurricanes which hit the US last month (Source: Getty)

Sterling's slide against the dollar steepened in lunchtime trading, despite figures showing US job openings fell into negative territory in September for the first time since 2011.

Official data for non-farm payrolls showed the US economy shed 33,000 jobs in the month. Despite a string of hurricanes which battered Florida and Texas, economists had expected 90,000 new job openings, down from 151,000 in August.

There was some good news: unemployment fell to 4.2 per cent, its lowest level in 16 years, against the 4.4 per cent expected, while average hourly earnings rose 0.5 per cent, up from a 0.1 per cent in August.

That caused the pound to fall further, dropping 0.6 per cent against the dollar to $1.3040. The dollar also spiked against the euro, rising 0.3 per cent to €0.8562.

"The headline number was much worse than the consensus forecast but doesn’t matter," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets UK.

"The wage number was positive and traders have paid a lot attention to this number because this shows that job market slack is fading."

"The headline number is irrelevant," added Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.

"The hurricanes always meant this number would be weak – although it was a lot weaker than forecast it will be seen as a blip and with construction activity set to rise we will see this balance out in the states affected by the end of the year.

"Of note, the last time a hurricane really hit the payrolls number was in 2005 with Katrina. Then it took until November for the pace of job creation to catch up in the affected areas. NFP numbers could continue to run below the 12-month average right up until the Fed’s December meeting. But that will not matter much for policymakers."

Read more: Why retailers should increase water prices after hurricanes

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