WASHINGTON - U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 190,000 jobs in October, government data showed on Friday, driving the unemployment rate to 10.2 percent, the highest in 26-1/2 years.
The Labor Department said the unemployment rate was the highest since April 1983 and October's non-farm payrolls loss was the smallest since August last year. It revised job losses for August and September to show 91,000 fewer jobs lost than previously reported.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected payrolls to drop by 175,000 and the jobless rate to edge up to 9.9 percent from 9.8 percent in September.
The labor market is being watched for signs whether the economic recovery that started in the third quarter can be sustained without government support. The economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate in the July-September period, probably ending the most painful U.S. recession in 70 years.
Payrolls have declined for 22 consecutive months now, throwing 7.3 million people out of work since December 2007, when the recession started.
However, the pace of layoffs has slowed sharply from early this year, when nearly three-quarters of a million jobs were lost in January. In October, job losses were across almost all sectors, with education and health services and professional and business services bucking the trend.
Manufacturing employment fell 61,000 last month, while construction industries payrolls dropped 62,000.
The service-providing sector cut 61,000 workers in October and goods-producing industries slashed 129,000 positions. Education and health services added 45,000 jobs, while government employment was flat.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)