U.S. Unemployment Soars

By: CBS/AP
By: CBS/AP

(CBS/ AP) The nation's unemployment rate bolted to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent in October as another 240,000 jobs were cut, the government said Friday. It was stark proof the economy is almost certainly in a recession.

The new snapshot, released by the Labor Department, shows the crucial jobs market deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid pace.

The jobless rate zoomed to 6.5 percent in October from 6.1 percent in September, matching the rate in March 1994. Employers have cut jobs each month this year.

Unemployment has now surpassed the high seen after the last recession in 2001. The jobless rate peaked at 6.3 percent in June 2003.

Employers got rid of 240,000 jobs in October, marking the 10th straight month of payroll reductions.

In a related development, Ford plans to cut about 2,260 more jobs, the latest in a vicious cycle of vanishing jobs and stresses on American consumers that is spelling deeper trouble for the already sinking U.S. economy.

In reporting Friday that it lost $129 million in the third quarter and went through $7.7 billion in cash, Ford Motor Co. said it will cut another 10 percent of its North American salaried work force costs as it tries to weather the worst economic downturn in decades.

The government also reported that job losses in August and September turned out to be much deeper. Employers cut 127,000 positions in August, compared with 73,000 previously reported. A whopping 284,000 jobs were axed last month, compared with the 159,000 jobs first reported.

So far this year, a staggering 1.2 million jobs have disappeared.

The employment market is much weaker than economists expected. They were forecasting the unemployment rate to climb to 6.3 percent in October and for payrolls to fall by around 200,000.

Job losses were widespread. Factories cut 90,000 jobs, construction companies got rid of 49,000 jobs, retailers cut payrolls by 38,000, professional and business services reduced employment by 45,000, financial activities cut 24,000 jobs, and leisure and hospitality axed 16,000 positions.

All that more than swamped some gains elsewhere, including in the government, as well as in education and health care.

Many expect the jobless rate to climb to 8 percent, possibly higher, next year. In the 1980-1982 recession, the unemployment rate rose as high as 10.8 percent before inching down.

© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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