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US Jobless Rate Hits Highest Level Since 1983

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The U.S. unemployment rate rose sharply in October, hitting 10.2 percent, the highest level since 1983.

Friday's report from the Labor Department says U.S. employers cut fewer workers in October than the prior month, but the overall economy still lost 190,000 jobs.

While the unemployment rate is rising, the pace of layoffs has slowed from early this year, when nearly three-quarters of a million jobs were lost in January.

Economist Lakesman Achutha says the hike in the jobless rate is the ironic result of an improving economy.

"The reason the unemployment rate rocketed up, is because the improving employment conditions are drawing more and more job applicants into the labor force," said Lakesman Achutha.

But economist James Shugg says the weakness in the U.S. job market is likely to continue for "some time."

"It is a lot easier for firms to make the decision not to lay someone off than it is actually to decide to take someone on," said James Shugg. "I think we are still at that point, the firms are getting less aggressive in terms of job cutting. But putting people on is still a little way to come yet."

Shugg works for Westpac Banking and spoke with the Bloomberg financial news service.