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U.S. Unemployment Rate Stuck at 9.5 Percent

Kansas City Star via YellowBrix

August 09, 2010

The nation’s unemployment rate stayed flat at 9.5 percent — with private hiring unable to outweigh government layoffs.

The number of government workers dipped by 202,000 — mostly the loss of 143,000 paychecks as temporary employees hired to conduct the decennial census wrapped up their work. Meantime, private payrolls inched up by 71,000 people, according to the Labor Department.

Unemployment, which had been projected to tick up to 9.6 percent, is subject to the number of workers who re-enter the labor force. The number of those job seekers has teeter-tottered for several months as people toggle between discouragement over their prospects or restart their efforts to earn a living.

With a continuing net increase of people entering the work force, private payrolls would need to grow by 200,000 a month to start lowering the unemployment rate.

That left the number of unemployed people in the country, 14.6 million, and the jobless rate, 9.5 percent, unchanged from June to July.

July was the third month in a row of anemic growth in private payrolls, suggesting an economy that has yet to gain momentum and in increasing danger of tanking again.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic report released Friday morning said businesses made fewer hirings in June that the government had estimated previously. July’s private sector gains were revised down to 31,000 from 83,000. May was revised up slightly to show 51,000 net new jobs, from 33,000.

The still-troubling jobless numbers could beget more problems for the economy. Without a resurgence in employment, consumers are prone to remain anxious about their incomes and less likely to spend money. So, too, businesses move cautiously to ramp up production and hiring if the economy continues on its wobbly ways.

Forecasters had expected the jobless rate to rise slightly to 9.6 percent in an economy shedding from 70,000 to 90,000 jobs — a gain in private sector jobs overwhelmed by elapsing census and other government jobs.

Though the numbers revealed Friday were somewhat better than expected, they were far from rosy.

The federal government said earlier that first-time claims for unemployment benefits spiked in July to their highest level in four months. That was a discouraging indicator of how feeble the American market remained. It was all the more disturbing because analysts had projected jobless claims to dip slightly.

Predictably, Republicans laid blame for the weak job report on the White House. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said health care reform and doubt over whether the Bush-era tax cuts would be allowed to expire had injected stultifying doubt into the economy.

“President Obama has been more focused on growing government than growing jobs, and it shows,” Steele said in a statement released within minutes of the unemployment report.

Men continued to remain unemployed — defined as actively seeking but unable to find it — than women. Joblessness of men over 20 slipped in July to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent and down from 9.8 percent in July 2009. For women over 20, the July rate rose to 7.9 percent over 2.9 percent in June and up from the 7.6 level of July 2009.

White workers registered an 8.6 percent unemployment rate in July, compared to 15.6 percent for African Americans and 12.1 percent for Hispanics.

Of all unemployed, 3.8 million had been on the job hunt for five weeks or less and 6.5 million had been out of work for 27 weeks or more.

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