Job losses in October sailed above economists' expectations, as U.S. employers shaved 240,000 non-farm jobs from their payrolls and the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.5 percent from 6.1 percent in September, the Labor Department reported this morning.
Economists had largely expected the unemployment rate would rise to 6.3 percent and that 200,000 jobs would be shed. Goldman Sachs economists had predicted a bearish shave of 300,000 jobs.
The payroll cuts were widespread. "In October, job losses continued in manufacturing, construction, and several service-providing industries," the Labor Department reported. The 6.5 percent unemployment rate is the highest since 1994.
September employment numbers were revised to a loss of 284,000 jobs that month. Those are the steepest losses since November 2001, when employers shed 292,000 jobs in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Employment has now dropped by 1.2 million jobs since the start of the year.
While President-elect Barack Obama has touted a five-year, $150 billion green-energy investment package as a path to 5 million new jobs, the necessary investment may be much larger for that kind of job creation, the Wall Street Journal reports today.