The nation’s unemployment hit a 14-year high of 6.5% in October as another 240,000 jobs were lost. It's (almost) official that we are in a recession. The U.S. Labor Department report shows the job market "deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid pace." Unemployment rose from 6.1% in September, tying the rate in March 1994. The last peak at 6.3% was in June 2003. A year ago, the unemployment rate stood at 4.8 percent. Employers slashed 127,000 positions in August. Another 284,000 jobs were lost in September. More than half of the job loss occurred in the past three months. Job losses seem to be a result of housing, credit and financial market upsets. According to reports, factories cut 90,000 jobs, the most since July 2003. Construction companies got rid of 49,000 jobs with heavy losses in home building. Retailers cut payrolls by 38,000. Professional and business services reduced employment by 45,000. Financial activities cut 24,000 jobs, with heavy losses in mortgage banking and at securities firms. Leisure and hospitality axed 16,000 positions. Some analysts expect unemployment to climb to 8% or higher next year. In the 1980-1982 recession, the unemployment rate rose as high as 10.8 percent before falling. If the economy contracts further in the first quarter of next year, then that more than fulfills a classic definition of a recession--two straight quarters of contracting economic activity.
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