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US Economy Adds Jobs for Third Month in Row - 2003-11-07

The U.S. economy has gained jobs for a third month in a row.

New figures released by the U.S. Labor Department show businesses hired 126,000 people in October. That is twice the number expected by economists.

The jobless rate fell by .1 percent to six percent, indicating economic growth in the United States has translated into more jobs.

The economy grew at a sizzling 7.2 percent in the third quarter. But partly due to large gains in productivity, the job market has been lagging behind other indications of the economic recovery.

A major portion of the increase in payrolls came from the service sector. Jobs were also created in the retail industry, education and health care.

Manufacturing continued to lose jobs in October, but at a slower pace than in previous months.

Economist Ken Mayland says business owners and managers are now feeling more confident about the economy, and have started to hire new workers.

"I think we are finally breaking through to the point where there is some increasing belief that, hey, maybe this economy is on a sustainable path to decent economic growth, and now it is time to put some bodies to work in the form of permanent new hires," he said.

Unemployment is an important political issue ahead of next year's presidential election, because the U.S. economy has lost at least 2.6 million jobs since President Bush took office in January 2001.

Mr. Mayland says he expects, with the improving economy, two million new jobs will be created between now and when voters go to the polls next November.

"With this economy now producing meaningful job gain, I think we are going to see some significant decline of the unemployment rate, maybe as much as a half a percentage point," he said. "If that in fact happens, that is going to figure prominently in President Bush's re-election chances. That is an economic call, that is not a political call on my part."

Mr. Mayland says the increase in hiring puts to rest what some economists have been calling the "jobless recovery."

He expects consumer confidence to rise as unemployment rates fall.

Mr. Mayland says the good economic news comes at the best possible time for businesses, just as the holiday shopping season is about to get under way.