Unemployment Rate Gets Highest in 26 Years

Government data showed on Friday, U.S. employers cut 190,000 jobs in October, which drives the unemployment rate to 10.2 percent, the highest in 26-1/2 years.

The Labor Department said the unemployment rate was the highest since April 1983. It revised job losses for August and September to show 91,000 fewer jobs lost than previously reported.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected payrolls to drop by 175,000 and the jobless rate to edge up to 9.9 percent from 9.8 percent in September, Reuters reports.

It was also reported, government efforts to end job losses have had limited effects, although the Obama administration estimated last month that 640,000 jobs were created or saved by the federal stimulus package passed earlier this year. But that's modest compared to the 7.3 million jobs that have been lost by the economy since the start of 2008.

Friday's report comes one day after Congress voted overwhelmingly to extend unemployment benefits by up to 20 weeks. There are now a record 5.6 million people who have been unemployed for six months or longer, as the average time an unemployed person has been out of a job hit 26.9 weeks.

Prior to this report, most economists had believed that the unemployment rate would keep rising and that job losses would continue into next year. But the jump in unemployment in October took it to levels worse than what many previously had expected to be the peak.

According to a survey of top forecasters by the National Association of Business Economics last month, the consensus estimate among economists was that unemployment would hit a high of 10% in the final three months of this year and the first quarter of 2010, CNNMoney.com reports.

Meanwhile, Melissa Grodhaus, 42, a laid-off cemetery worker from Winona, Ohio, said she had filled out 150 applications since she lost her job nearly two years ago. She struggles to keep up with mortgage payments and utility bills, and she must also take care of her three children.

“There’s nothing here,” she said. “I can’t see anything worse than it is right now.”

Ms. Grodhaus has started selling old clothes on eBay, and she has told her children she cannot afford to pay the fees for school sports this year. Every two weeks, when the local church brings out food baskets, she rushes to pick up her share. Within minutes, she said, they are gone, The New York Times reports.

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