CNN Financial News Producer
The nation's unemployment rate rose above 10% for the first time since 1983 in October, a much worse jump than expected as employers continued to trim jobs from payrolls.
The reading is a sign of the continued weakness in the labor market - even though the economy grew in the third quarter following the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression.
The Labor Dept. said this morning that unemployment rate spiked to 10.2% last month, up from 9.8% in September. That’s the highest rate since April 1983.
There was also a net loss of 190,000 jobs in October. And while that’s worse than what economists were expecting and is still a big number – it is an improvement from the 741,000 jobs we lost in January.
The largest losses last month were in the construction, manufacturing and retail sectors.
The jump in the unemployment rate was driven up by a large drop in the number of people who describe themselves as self-employed, as well as the number of teenagers who have jobs. The unemployment rate for teenagers in the labor force soared to 27.6%, up 1.8 percentage points and hitting a third-straight record high.
It’s with that employment report as a backdrop that President Obama signed into law a bill to provide up to 20 additional weeks of jobless benefits to unemployed Americans, as well as extend the $8,000 tax credit for new homebuyers into the middle of next year.
After calling the jobless rate “sobering,” Obama said the bill he signed “will help grow our economy, help create and save jobs, and help provide necessary relief to small businesses,” in a statement following the signing.
The House approved the measures by a 403-12 vote Thursday afternoon, a day after the Senate passed the legislation.
The closely watched legislation will extend jobless benefits in all states by 14 weeks. Those that live in states with unemployment greater than 8.5% will receive an additional six weeks. The proposal will be funded by extending a longstanding federal unemployment tax on employers through June 30, 2011.
The Senate had been bickering over the details since September, and that cost more than 200,000 people their benefits. Some 7,000 unemployed Americans run out of benefits each day, according to the National Employment Law Project.
Commodities prices also reacted to the unexpected spike in the unemployment rate.
Crude oil prices dropped by more than $2 to around $77 per barrel. Oil prices have risen from a low of less than $33 a barrel last December to a high for this year of $82 in October.
And gold powered through the $1,100 an ounce barrier as nervous investors sought out the metal as a safe haven.
Gold prices have soared 5% this week amid speculation that overseas central banks may be moving toward buying more gold as they look for ways to reduce their exposure to the U.S. dollar - the traditional reserve currency of choice for many of those foreign central banks.
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