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Numbers Man

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In October, the unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent, the highest rate since April 1983, and nonfarm payroll employment declined by 190,000. Since the start of the recession, payroll employment has fallen by 7.3 million. Job losses have averaged 188,000 over the past 3 months. The declines are much smaller and less widespread than they were last fall and winter. Nevertheless, some industries are still experiencing notable employment declines. In October, construction lost 62,000 jobs, manufacturing 61,000, and retail trade 40,000. One of the few industries where employment continued to grow during the recession has been health care, which added 29,000 jobs in October. Employment in temporary help services rose by 34,000 over the month, the first significant increase in that industry since the start of the recession in December 2007. Among those outside the labor force -- that is, persons neither working nor looking for work -- the number of discouraged workers in October was 808,000, up from 484,000 a year earlier. These individuals are not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

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