US jobs boost as private sector hires

US EMPLOYMENT jumped by much more than expected last month as private companies hired workers at the fastest pace since April.

The news was seen as a sign that the sluggish economy is finally starting to pick up although President Obama said the unemployment rate was still "unacceptably high".

Non- farm payrolls rose by a solid 151,000 in October, with private hiring rising by 159,000 but the government cutting 8,000 jobs. Economists had expected the overall payroll figure to increase by 60,000 with private employment rising 75,000.

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Data for August and September was also revised to show 110,000 fewer jobs were lost than previously thought. The dollar rose on the data but stocks slipped in early trading as investors pocketed profits after markets hit a two-year high on Thursday.

The solid jobs growth failed to make a dent in the unemployment rate, which remained at 9.6 per cent for a third straight month, in line with market expectations.

Mohamed El-Erian, the co-chief investment officer of finance group Pimco, said while the latest figures were good it would take several months of improving figures to convince markets that a major improvement was under way.

"We need to see higher numbers for several months to overcome the critical issue of stubbornly high unemployment that is becoming increasingly structural in nature."

Concern over the anaemic job market was a factor behind the Federal Reserve's decision this week to pump an additional $600 billion into the economy. Anger over joblessness helped the Republican Party wrest control of the House of Representatives from Democrats in elections on Tuesday, which were seen as a referendum on Obama's economic policies.