October slows slight job improvement, but rate hits 10.2%

OCTOBER SLOWS SLIGHT JOB IMPROVEMENT, BUT RATE HITS 10.2%…. The monthly job losses were better in October than September, but that didn’t stop the overall unemployment rate from increasing to double digits for the first time since 1983.

The United States economy shed 190,000 jobs in October, and the unemployment rate reached a 26-year high of 10.2 percent, up from 9.8 percent in September, the Department of Labor said Friday in its monthly economic appraisal.

While the pace of the job losses has slowed significantly since the peak of the recession last winter, the unemployment rate, which measures the number of people actively seeking work, continues to climb, and economists do not foresee relief until well into next year.

“There’s no doubt that the slashing and burning of jobs has abated quite a lot,” said Allen L. Sinai, the founder of Decision Economics, a research firm. “The economy is recovering, but it is a very soft recovery.”

It’s little solace, but the numbers for August and September were adjusted in a better direction.

Here’s the homemade chart, showing job losses by month, starting in January 2008, a month after the recession began.


If we include those who are working part-time but want full-time employment, or those who’ve simply given up — the U6 measure — the overall rate hit 17.5%. It is, not surprisingly, the highest it’s been since the government began keeping track in 1994.

All told, nearly 16 million are now out of work.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.