The U.S. economy lost 263,000 jobs in September and the national unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The numbers were higher than the average industry predictions; The Wall Street Journal reports that economists had expected job losses of 175,000. The rate grew 0.1 percent over August's figure. Since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, more than 7.6 million jobs have been lost. The manufacturing sector lost 51,000 jobs in September, bringing total job losses to 2.1 million since the recession began. In other sectors: construction lost 64,000 jobs, the majority in nonresidential and heavy construction; government employment lost 53,000 jobs, with the majority of losses coming at state and local levels; retail trade jobs fell by 39,000, with 7,100 of the losses at automobile dealerships. The only sector to see gains in September was healthcare, which added 19,000 jobs. Economists point to the September figures as a key indication that the economic recovery is not as strong as has been reported. "It's a very fragile and tentative recovery," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, quoted in The New York Times. "Policymakers need to do more." The Labor Department figures for October will be released on November 6.