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Sputtering Recovery Adds 80,000 Jobs

A mixed picture for 55-plus workers

En español | U.S. employers added a mediocre 80,000 jobs to their payrolls in October, and the unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged — 9 percent, down from 9.1, the government reported Friday.

For older workers, the landscape grew distinctly more hostile. The 55-plus jobless rate increased to 7 percent from 6.7 percent in September.

See also: Retirement insecurity for African Americans, Latinos.

The numbers for older men worsened, rising to 7.2 percent from 6.9 percent the previous month. For older women, the rate ticked down slightly, to 6.5 percent from 6.6 percent.

There was a hint of good news concerning a pervasive problem for older workers: the long length of time they remain jobless. After rising for months, the average time out of work for the 55-plus group declined to 52.9 weeks as of October, from 54.8 weeks the previous month. Still, since March the figure has exceeded a year for older adults.

For people under 55, the average duration fell as well, to 37.3 weeks last month from 38.6 weeks in September.

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The Federal Reserve on Wednesday dampened expectations that a more robust recovery was on the horizon. Officials said the economy would suffer weak growth and high unemployment for years — around 8.5 percent at the end of next year and perhaps as high as 7.7 percent in late 2014.

And European countries continue to keep up suspense as to whether they will find a lasting solution to Greece's financial crisis, which threatens to put a drag on economic growth worldwide.

Yet, in the forest of economic statistics from which predictions are made, there are also signs of improvement.

Fears about a new recession were tempered this week with news that economic growth in the third quarter was a solid 2.5 percent — well above the 1.3 percent of the second quarter and the 0.4 percent in the first.

Ramped-up spending by consumers and businesses largely contributed to the increase. Consumer spending generally accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic growth. But consumers had to dip into their savings to spend more.

Next: Private employers add jobs, but government cuts. >>

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