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US Jobless Rate Surpasses 10% to Hit 26-Year High

by Alexandra Frean

America's rate of unemployment crossed the 10 per cent mark in October to reach a 26-year high after jobless figures rose by 190,000 last month.

Jobseekers line up before dawn to register at a community employment center in October in Pasadena, California. (AFP/File/Robyn Beck) The non-farm payroll figure is above forecasts that 176,000 jobs had been lost last month. The rate of unemployment in America is now 10.2 per cent -- the highest since April 1983. The Dow Jones industrial average fell by 45.5 points to 9,960.46.

While October's job losses are above expectations, the total is below the 219,000 cuts recorded in September.

Today's data is being closely watched for signs that America can sustain a recovery without Government stimuli after emerging from recession in the third quarter.

Last week, figures revealed that US gross domestic product (GDP) - a key measure of an economy's financial health - rose by 3.5 per cent between July and September.

In February, President Obama signed a $787 billion recovery package, aimed at boosting growth and stemming job losses, which last week, the administration said was responsible for saving or creating about 640,000 jobs.

This week, the US Federal Reserve, America's central bank, underlined the fragility of the recovery when it voted to keep the interest rate at close to zero and indicated that there would be no increase for at least six months.

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed people has risen by 8.2 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 5.3 percentage points.

The largest job losses in October were in construction, manufacturing, and retail trade.

US employers are not expected to start adding jobs in significant numbers for several months with many sceptical about the strength and sustainability of the recovery. One of the biggest positive contributions to employment in October came from temporary employment, which added 34,000 extra jobs.

Paul Ashworth, senior US economist at Capital Economics, a research house, said: "Temporary jobs aren't the type of positions that you want to see being created in an economy further into a recovery. But at this early stage of the cycle, that rebound in temporary jobs suggests employers will be adding extra permanent positions over the next few months."

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