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September jobs cut is deepest in five years

POSTED: October 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- Employers slashed payrolls by 159,000 in September, the most in more than five years, a worrisome sign that the economy is hurtling toward a deep recession.

The Labor Department's fresh snapshot, released Friday, also showed that the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 6.1 percent as hundreds of thousands of people streamed out of the work force for any number of reasons.

The reduction in payrolls was much sharper than the 100,000 cuts economists were forecasting. They expected the jobless rate to be unchanged.

It marked the ninth straight month that the economy has lost jobs. The drop underscores fallout from a long slump in the housing market and a dangerous credit crunch that intensified last month throwing Wall Street — and the economy — into chaos.

Employers cut 73,000 jobs in August, slightly less than the 84,000 initially estimated, according to revised figures. However, the cuts in July turned out to be a bit deeper — 67,000 versus the 60,000 previously reported.

The 159,000 jobs lost in September were the most since March 2003, when the labor market was still struggling to get back on its feet after being knocked down by the 2001 recession.

 

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