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NYC jobless rate still 10.3 pct amid broad losses

NEW YORK, Nov 19 (Reuters) - New York City’s unemployment rate in October clung to a 16-year high of 10.3 percent, with the new data underscoring the breadth of the downturn as almost all sectors lost jobs, state officials said Thursday.

“We’re not seeing hiring pick up at all,” said James Brown, a labor market analyst with the state labor department, by telephone. This is the third month in a row that the city’s jobless rate has topped 10 percent, he said.

“We’re not getting the improvement in sectors that are sensitive to the national economy, such as the financial industry and the professional and business services sector, and we’re not getting a strong holiday pattern either,” he said.

The city’s underemployment rate in October 2008 was 6.2 percent.

The state’s jobless rate rose a tenth of a percentage point to 9 percent in October from the previous month. New York state’s unemployment rate was just 5.9 percent one year ago.

One bright spot for New York City was educational and health services, which added 21,600 jobs in October -- two-thirds of which were in education, Brown said. Over the year, this sector has gained 15,700 positions or 2.1 percent.

But the financial sector, the taproot of the city’s economy, is still going through waves of layoffs.

The city’s securities and commodities companies sliced 1,100 workers in October, and this industry has shed 21,600 people or 11.9 percent of the workforce since a year ago.

Bankers, including so-called credit intermediation, lost 600 positions in October, and for the year, have 5,300 fewer workers or 5.8 percent of the workforce.

New York City’s real estate sector and professional and business services, whose fortunes are closely tied to Wall Street’s profits, added 100 people in October. But real estate firms have lost 6,200 workers this year or 5 percent of the total.

Professional and business services, a catchall category that includes software designers and law firms, have sent out 29,400 pink slips this year to 4.8 percent of their workforce.

More gloom was seen in the city’s construction industry, which axed 3,500 people during the month and is down 13,700 people for the year or around 10 percent. Though construction usually slows in winter months, this is too early in the season for weather to be driving the layoffs, Brown said.

Two other industries trimmed workers in October in a month when they usually hire. Retailers pruned 1,100 workers, though they often hire ahead of the coming holidays. This industry has lost 10,900 people this year or 3.6 percent.

Despite the dollar’s weakness, tourism is not giving city employers much help. Leisure and hospitality companies sliced 2,100 workers in October and this sector is down 2,000 people or 0.6 percent of the total for the year.

Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama