For Americans who wake up each morning thinking about their job hunt, Friday's unemployment report offered little reassurance that their search soon would pay off, even as the broader economy showed signs of strengthening.
The U.S. economy shed 190,000 jobs in October, and the nation's unemployment rate reached a 26-year high of 10.2 percent, the Department of Labor said.
While the pace of job losses has slowed significantly since the peak of the recession last winter, the unemployment rate, which measures the number of people actively seeking work, continues to climb, and economists do not foresee relief until well into next year.
That's especially bad news for the Northern San Joaquin Valley, which has been especially hard hit by the recession, with unemployment rates running about 5 percentage points higher than the national average. The jobless rate in Stanislaus County was 15.3 percent in September.
Those bleak valley jobless numbers are expected to get worse in the coming months, after the typical decline in agricultural activity.
The downward spiral began with a dramatic downturn in the region's housing market. Job losses in construction, finance, real estate and related fields have spread to manufacturing, auto dealerships, restaurants and retailers, including regional chains such as Gottschalk's and Mervyns.
As job losses mounted, foreclosures surged. The region continues to have one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Over three years, more than 16,400 Stanislaus homes with combined mortgages of $5.5 billion have been lost to foreclosure.