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Unemployment Passes Symbolic Milestone: Double Digits

Unemployment passed a grim milestone Friday, climbing past 10 percent for the first time 1983.

The U.S. economy shed another 190,000 jobs in October, and the unemployment rate reached 10.2 percent, up from 9.8 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are now 15.7 million Americans who are out of work and searching for a job.

US Unemployment - 10 percent - October 2009

The climb past 10 percent is only marginally worse than the previous high in September but represents the the deep pain of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate had only reached double digits once since the Depression, peaking at 10.8 percent in September 1982.

“Having the unemployment rate reach double-digits is a stark reminder of how much work remains to be done,” said Christina Romer, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. However, Romer said, the steady decline in monthly job losses since earlier this year is a hopeful sign for the economy.

According to the New York Times:

The biggest losses came in the construction, manufacturing and retailing sectors. Health care companies added 29,000 jobs to their payrolls, and the number of temporary workers grew by 34,000 — a significant gain that could indicate employers are beginning to expand their businesses again.

… The manufacturing sector, considered the engine of the economy, was given its most optimistic bill of health in three years by a private group on Monday. But Friday’s report showed a loss of 61,000 jobs in the industry, compared with 51,000 in September, and economists said it could be several months before the sector stabilizes.

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