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As Almost 200,000 More Jobs Are Lost: Unemployment Tops 10% In October

By Adam Price

San José, CA – On Friday, Nov. 6, the Labor Department reported that the official unemployment rate for October rose to 10.2%, from 9.8% in September. This is the first time since 1983 that the unemployment rate has topped 10%. A survey of businesses showed that 190,000 more jobs were lost in October, bringing the total number of jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 to 7.3 million. These figures were worse than what mainstream economists expected and confirmed the fact that there is no recovery for working people.

With more and more people out of work, it is taking longer and longer for jobless workers to find employment. The average length of unemployment rose again, reaching 27 weeks. At the same time the labor force continued to shrink, as more and more people gave up looking for work. A broader measure of unemployment that includes people whose hours were cut and those who gave up looking for work rose to a new high of 17.5%

African Americans and Latinos continue to be hardest hit, with official unemployment rates of 15.7% and 13.1%, respectively. If all the African Americans who dropped out of the labor force over the last year were counted as unemployed, the official unemployment rate for Blacks would top 18%!

A week earlier the Commerce Department released their report on Gross Domestic Product, the total amount of goods and services produced in the United States, for the July through September period. For the first time in more than a year production grew, which many economists consider the end of the recession. With businesses producing more goods and services with fewer workers, productivity, or production per hour, soared, driving corporate profits higher.

Even if the economy avoids a so-called 'double-dip' where the economy has another contraction to a new low, it is likely a jobless recovery is underway. In the 1991 recession it took 15 months for the official unemployment rate to peak after the economy started to grow again. In 2001 this process took even longer, with 19 months of rising unemployment after the official end of the recession.

After months of Republican foot-dragging, Congress finally passed another extension to unemployment insurance benefits on Nov. 5. With thousands of laid-off workers losing their benefits each week, the Obama administration was able to extend the unemployment insurance benefit period another 20 weeks, to a total of 99 weeks in states where the unemployment rate is over 8.5%. While unemployment insurance benefits can be a lifesaver for jobless workers and their families, it is still not the same, financially or psychologically, as a job. Now more than ever there is a need for a Federal jobs program modeled on the 1930s Works Progress Administration or WPA.

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