By and  on November 7, 2008

As President-elect Barack Obama began to assemble his economic team, the October employment figures released Friday provided a grim reminder of the country’sprecarious financial situation, although the stock market seemed to take the news in stride, with gains in early morning trading.

The real blow to theeconomy came from the manufacturing, construction and services sectors, whichdrove overall employment down by 240,000 jobs in October, significantly morethan consensus estimates that had predicted a loss of 200,000. As a result, theunemployment rate also was worse than expected, rising to 6.5 percent from 6.1percent in September. Department stores slashed 18,000 jobs last month to employ1.476 million, while apparel and accessory specialty stores cut 700 positions toemploy 1.493 million, the Labor Department reported.

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