October 21, 2009 / 8:11 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-Mexico unemployment rate hits 14-yr high in Sept

(Adds comparison, background)

MEXICO CITY, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Mexico’s unemployment rate rose to its highest in 14 years in September as a crippling recession ravaged the country’s export sector, the national statistics agency said on Wednesday.

The jobless rate rose to a higher-than-expected 6.41 percent in the month from 6.28 percent in August, the national statistics agency said.

The jobless number stands in stark contrast to other indications that Mexico’s economy began to recover during the third quarter, and supports the view that factories might rebound faster than workers.

Mexico’s economy is expected to contract this year at its fastest pace since 1932 due to a drop in U.S. demand for cars, televisions and other goods made south of the border.

The central bank said last week that the economy likely surged nearly 3.0 percent during the third quarter from the previous three months, but warned that employment would not bounce back quickly.

Automobile output rose in each of the three months through September when compared to the previous month.

Hundreds of thousands of Mexican factory workers have lost their jobs in the past year.

The country’s jobless rate is still lower than in many other industrialized countries in part because the country lacks unemployment insurance. Workers are often forced to grab any available job when they are laid off.

Also, people who have been laid off in Mexico frequently join the underground economy as illegal street vendors, where they are still considered employed.

Economists in a Reuters poll had predicted a jobless rate MXUNR=ECI of 6.28 percent. (Reporting by Jason Lange)

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