By Mark Huffman

November 6, 2009
The number of people officially out of work went over the 10 percent mark in October, as the Labor Department put the unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, the highest in 26 years.

The U.S. economy lost another 190,000 jobs during the month. Some economists believe the actual rate is much higher, since some people may have given up looking for a job. Even more previously fulltime employees are now working only part time.

According to the October report, the largest job losses came in retailing, construction and manufacturing. While not many sectors added to their job rolls, health care was an exception, with 29,000 new employees.

The numbers took no one by surprise, as an increase to a double-digit jobless rate has been anticipated for some time. The question, however, is when Americans can expect an improvement. Economists commenting in various media reports suggest a recovery in the labor market will be a long time in coming.

"We may be looking at very high (unemployment)levels, barring a policy response, for several years into the future," Dean Baker, a director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told the New York Times.

While joblessness continues to rise, U.S. companies appear to have regained their economic footing. The third quarter earnings season has been marketed with better than expected earnings, helping the stock market continue its rally. However. A number of these companies have said their return to profitability was aided by cutting overhead, including jobs.

On Thursday members of Congress overwhelming voted to extend unemployment benefits for up to 20 weeks, a sign lawmakers also expect a long, slow recovery in the jobs market.