Unemployment hit a 14-year high in October as employers shed jobs to lower payroll costs, a pair of reports showed Friday.

According to the Labor Department, nonfarm payrolls declined by 240,000 jobs in October as unemployment rose from 6.1 to 6.5 percent, the highest rate since 1994. Job losses now total 651,000 for the last three months and 1.2 million for the year, the report said.

At the same time, Monster.com reported the number of jobs ads posted online has declined by 20 percent this year, including sharp declines in October. The Maynard, Mass.—based online job board's monthly employment index fell 10 points in October, dropping to a three-year low.

"U.S. businesses are scaling back their recruitment efforts due to uncertainty surrounding the global financial crisis and current economic conditions," Jesse Harriott, vice president of research at Monster Worldwide, said in a statement.

Of the Index's 20 industry job categories, only utilities, mining, and public administration posted gains.

The Labor Department reported that the sharpest unemployment increases were in construction, manufacturing, and service-sector industries.