Sharp rise in US unemployment figures

Unemployment in the US hit 15.7m last month, its highest rate since April 1983, Government data showed yesterday.

Employers axed a worse than expected 190,000 jobs last month, pushing the jobless rate to 10.2 per cent. However, the country’s Labor Department revised the figures for August and September to show 91,000 few posts had been axed than previously feared.

Analysts had expected the cut to come in at 175,000 with the rate of unemployment to stay just under the 10 per cent barrier at 9.9 per cent. America is officially out of recession but there is usually a lag between when a recovery starts and when the rate of unemployment starts to fall.

America’s job market is being watched closely as economists weigh weather it can be expected to be sustained without state support. Growth came in at an annualised rate of 3.5 per cent in the third quarter, ending what many saw as the most painful recession in the US since the depression of the 1930s.

Hopes for better figures had been raised following news of a fall in initial weekly jobless claims.

Payrolls have declined for 22 consecutive months, with 7.3m people finding themselves without work since December 2007 when the financial crisis plunged the US, and the world into a downturn which parts, including Britain, have yet to start recovering from.

However, a bright spot in the figure was that the pace of layoffs has declined from earlier this year. Nearly three quarters of a million posts were axed in January. Last month jobs were lost across almost every sector of the US economy with only education and health services, which added 45,000 jobs, and professional and business services standing out as brightspots.

Manufacturing employment fell by 61,000 posts. Construction industry payrolls dropped 62,000. The service sector was responsible for axing 61,000 workers in October and goods-producing industries cut 129,000 jobs. Government employment was flat.

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