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U.S. Unemployment Rate Rises to 9.7% in August

The U.S. economy lost 216,000 jobs in August, pushing the nation’s unemployment rate to 9.7%, according to a newly released Labor Dept. report. While job losses are never good news, analysts are nonetheless encouraged by moderation in the overall loss of jobs.

In the face of a 9.7% and climbing unemployment rate, many experts envision a jobless recovery, whereby the economy grows but job losses persist. That would reprise the end of the last recession in 2001, when payrolls continued to decline for nearly two years afterward.

“In the context of a full-blooded recovery, this report is disappointing,” said Alan Ruskin, an economist with the Royal Bank of Scotland in Stamford, Conn., told The New York Times. “We’re still clawing our way back.”

How things shook out last month: manufacturing shed another 63,000 jobs, while construction lost 65,000 positions. Health care remained a rare bright spot, adding nearly 28,000 jobs.

In August, the number of unemployed persons increased by 466,000 to 14.9 million. The rate had been little changed in June and July, after increasing 0.4 or 0.5 percentage points in each month from December 2008 through May.

Since the recession began in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 7.4 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 4.8 percentage points.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.1%), whites (8.9%), and Hispanics (13%) rose in August. Meanwhile, the jobless rates for adult women (7.6%), teenagers (25.5%), and blacks (15.1%) were little changed over the month. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.5%, not seasonally adjusted.

The civilian labor force participation rate remained at 65.5% in August. The employment population ratio, at 59.2%, edged down over the month and has declined by 3.5 percentage points since the recession began in December 2007. In August, the number of persons working part time for economic reasons was little changed at 9.1 million. These individuals indicated that they were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Source: The New York Times, U.S. Labor Dept.

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