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U.S. Unemployment Rate Climbs to 9.8%

Employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, bringing the U.S. unemployment rate to 9.8%—a 26-year high. That’s according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Among the sectors heavily impacted, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, were service-oriented industries, including banks, restaurants and retailers. Manufacturing and government were also hard hit. Following is a breakdown by industry sector:

Construction employment declined by 64,000. Monthly job losses averaged 66,000 from May through September, compared with an average of 117,000 per month from November to April. September job cuts were concentrated in the industry's nonresidential components, down 39,000, and in heavy construction, down 12,000. Since December 2007, employment in construction has fallen by 1.5 million.

Employment in manufacturing fell by 51,000 in September. Over the past three months, job losses have averaged 53,000 per month, compared with an average monthly loss of 161,000 from October to June. Employment in manufacturing has contracted by 2.1 million since the onset of the recession.

In the service-providing sector, the number of jobs in retail trade fell by 39,000 in September. From April through September, retail employment has fallen by an average of 29,000 per month, compared with an average monthly loss of 68,000 for the prior six-month period.

Government employment was down by 53,000 in September, with the largest decline occurring in the non-education component of local government, down 24,000. Employment in transportation and warehousing continued to trend down in September.

On the flip side, employment in health care continued to increase in September, with 19,000 jobs created. The largest gain occurred in ambulatory health care services, with 15,000 positions. Overall, health care has added 559,000 jobs since the beginning of the recession, although the average monthly job gain thus far in 2009, 22,000, is down from the average monthly gain during 2008, or 30,000. Likewise, the number of jobs in financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and information showed little or no change over the month.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. The new data is sparking fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Industry analysts are in agreement that any economic recovery will be slow treading, and that U.S. unemployment rate will top 10% before conditions improve.

The full September employment report is available from the Bureau of Labor.
 

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