U.S. Unemployment Climbs Past 10 Percent

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In October, the unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent, the highest rate since April 1983.

The economy lost 190,000 non-farm jobs last month, bringing the total of jobs shed since the start of the recession to 7.3 million, Keith Hall, commissioner of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today.


Since the recession began, the number of unemployed workers has more than doubled to 15.7 million. In October, 5.6 million workers had been jobless for 27 weeks or more. There were 9.3 million people working part-time jobs in October who would have preferred full-time work. That number has also doubled since the start of the recession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 808,000 people are neither working nor looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. That number is up from 484,000 last year.

Job losses have averaged 188,000 over the past three months, the commissioner reported. Though Hall pointed out that the declines are much smaller and less widespread than they were last fall and winter, some industries are still experiencing notable employment declines.  In October, construction lost 62,000 jobs, manufacturing 61,000, and retail trade 40,000.

In construction, October job losses were concentrated among nonresidential specialty trades and heavy construction.  Earlier in the recession, the residential components of construction accounted for the majority of the job losses in the industry, Hall noted.

In manufacturing, there were notable job cuts in machinery, nonmetallic minerals, computer products, and printing in October. Retail job losses were concentrated in sporting goods and book stores and in department stores.  Earlier in the downturn, large job losses were spread across a wider range of retail industries, Hall said.

One of the few industries where employment continued to grow during the recession has been health care, which added 29,000 jobs in October.

Employment in temporary help services rose by 34,000 over the month, the first significant increase in that industry since the start of the recession in December 2007, Hall noted.

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