MEXICO'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HIT RECORD HIGH IN AUGUST

MEXICO'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HIT RECORD HIGH IN AUGUST

Mexico's main unemployment rate hit a new record in August as recession threw more Mexicans out of work, but the government said late Wednesday there were signs of a slight improvement in September.

In its monthly employment report, the National Statistics Institute said joblessness surged to 7.6 percent in August from 7.3 percent in July - more than double the 3.6 percent reported in August last year.The rate, which measures urban unemployment as a percentage of the economically active population, has soared this year as the economy slumped into recession in the aftermath of last winter's devastating financial crisis.

The government had hoped unemployment would level off at mid-year, but a surge of students looking for jobs during their summer vacations pushed it unexpectedly higher in July and August.

In an unusual move, the statistics institute released preliminary figures for September showing the jobless rate edged down slightly to 7.5 percent.

If those figures are borne out, it would mark the first time this year that unemployment has dipped, adding weight to the government's claim that the recession has touched bottom.