August Jobless Rate Soars as Manufacturers Continue Job Cuts

September 7, 2001 ( - The beleaguered US manufacturing sector continued shedding jobs at a prodigious pace in August, which helped drive the nation's unemployment rate to its highest level in almost four years.

In the latest sign of the economy’s continued weakness, the Labor Department on Friday reported a 4.9% jobless rate – up from July’s 4.5%. It was the highest monthly rate since October 1998.

Underlying the figures were the axing of 113,000 workers from corporate payrolls during the month. Manufacturers have ditched more than one million positions since mid-2000, according to the Labor Department.

The DoL data shows that in August:

· construction employment was flat
· service-sector jobs rose by 72,000
· transportation and public utility employment fell by 24,000
· communications lost 8,000 jobs.

Average hourly earnings, a key gauge of inflationary pressure, rose to $14.38, up slightly. The length of the average workweek was unchanged in August.

Investors showed their continuing concern at the ominous news with the Dow down 84.56 points, or 0.86 percent, to 9,756.28 at mid-morning Friday.