U.S. loses 159,000 jobs

Unemployment rate remains at 6.1 per cent in September

The United States lost 159,000 jobs in September, marking the ninth straight month of job losses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, with 121,000 people leaving the workforce, the unemployment rate remained unchanged from August at 6.1 per cent.

September's drop was the largest net monthly decline in employment since January and the steepest rate of decline in more than five years. The American economy has lost a net 760,000 jobs this year.

September's losses were steeper than predicted, with economists predicting a net loss of 100,000 to 105,000 jobs, and are a cause for concern, according to one economist in New York.

"We've seen weaker data in history, but these look pretty decisively to be the beginning of something worse," Pierre Ellis, senior economist with Decision Economics Inc., told Reuters. September's numbers might make the Federal Reserve more inclined to cut interest rates despite its concern over inflation, he added.

But David Watt, senior currency strategist with RBC Capital markets in Toronto, told Reuters it was moderately encouraging that the unemployment rate, which is compiled from a separate survey, did not shoot higher.

"I don't think there's any doubt that the labour market has weakened, but it's not deteriorating quite as quickly as the headline indicated," Watt said.

Despite the rollercoaster ride in the financial sector in September, that sector lost the fewest jobs with 17,000 net jobs lost. The goods-producing sector lost the most (77,000), followed by manufacturing (51,000), construction (35,000) and business services (27,000).

Government jobs saw an increase of 9,000 net jobs and education and health care gained 25,000 new jobs — the only sectors to see any increases in September.

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