Employers cut more jobs in September than expected and the unemployment rate crept up to 9.8 percent, with economists predicting that the rate will eventually exceed 10 percent before falling in 2010.

September’s payroll cuts were 263,000, the Commerce Department reported this morning. The losses exceeded consensus estimates of 175,000, according to a Bloomberg poll.

September’s results are slightly below the average monthly loss for the last six months of 307,000. Average monthly job losses in the previous six months starting in November 2008 were 645,000.

The biggest losses were in construction, with 64,000; government, down 53,000; manufacturing, which fell by 51,000, and retail trade, slipping 39,000.

The total number of unemployed workers in the U.S. stands at 15.1 million.