Unemployment Hits 9.8 Percent

Unemployment rose to a level not seen since 1983 as a higher-than-forecast number of jobs were cut last month. The Labor Department Friday reported a rise in unemployment from 9.7 percent to 9.8 percent, in line with many economists’ predictions, but payrolls fell by 263,000, despite a loss the previous month that was smaller than originally reported. Factory workers and builders were hit especially hard, with 51,000 and 64,000 jobs lost, respectively. With September’s figures added, the number of jobs lost since the start of the recession comes to 7.2 million, the biggest decline since the Great Depression. Of course, many remaining jobs now come with shorter hours—the average work week also shrank to match a record low of 33 hours a week. Fed Chair Ben Bernanke said that economic expansion may not “substantially” cut into unemployment.