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US unemployment rate breaks ten per cent

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There may be signs that the Great Recession in the US is on the wane, but employers didn't get the memo and another 190,000 people lost their jobs in October.

According to this morning's jobs report (pdf) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the States rose to 10.2 per cent through the end of October, up from 9.8 per cent in September.

It was 1983 when the unemployment rate in the US broke through ten per cent. As it now stands, there are 15.7 million unemployed people in the country, and since the recession started in December 2007, 7.3 million workers have been given pink slips. (This data excludes farm workers, which includes farmers who work all year and seasonal workers who come and go with harvests.)

In one piece of good news, the BLS went back and revised job losses downward in August and September, so it was not as bad as it originally looked from initial estimates. The BLS now reckons that the US economy shed 154,000 non-farm jobs in August, not 201,000, and 219,000 in September, not 263,000.

The IT industry, for all the hopeful talk of recovery on the lips of the top brass at some companies, continues to shed workers. (It sometimes feels like the execs at top IT firms are trying to will a recovery with their positive thinking, as if their personalities were strong enough to budge an economy.)

Companies engaged in the manufacturing of computer and electronic products shed 6,500 jobs in October, with 1,600 of the losses at computer and peripheral equipment makers, 300 at communications equipment makers, and 3,400 at semiconductor and electronic components makers. All told, computer and electronics makers employ over 1.1 million people in the US.

Telecommunications firms in the States employed 974,300 people in October, up 1,100 workers from September. Data processing, hosting and related services firms employed 255,000 people, down 700 from a month ago.

Companies engaged in computer systems design and related services added 16,500 jobs in October, according to the BLS, and now employ 1.48 million works - slightly more than were working a year ago. Management and technical consulting services firms also added workers, up 13,100 to 1.03 million workers.

What is not clear from the BLS data is whether or not the IT departments of US companies are hiring or firing. The BLS tracks employees by industry, not by the job title they hold.

So we have no idea how many programmers, system administrators, system architects, project managers and IT execs there are out there in the economy, and how this compares to last month or last year. ®

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