US unemployment rate increased to 5.1 percent in Sept. as the economy lost 35,000 jobs in the wake of the natural disasters caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Labor Department said Friday.
The Sept. decline in payrolls marked the first drop since May 2003, the largest since an decrease of 54,000 jobs in April 2003. Previously, economists had been expecting a loss of at least 150,000 jobs in Sept.
The 5.1-percent jobless rate, the highest level since May, came after the unemployment rate had fallen to a four-year low of 4.9 percent in August.
According to the revised figures released by the Labor Department, the US economy added 211,000 jobs in August and 277,000 in July. Payrolls for both months were revised up from previous estimates.
Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, killing at least 1,212 people and displacing millions of others. It turned out to be the costliest natural disaster in the nation's history.