Meanwhile, these figures for August are preliminary; like every month, the revised numbers will be about two times larger, just as the real unemployment is at least 18%.
- Yahoo News (AP) -
The unemployment rate jumped almost half a point to 9.7 percent in August, the highest since 1983, reflecting a poor job market that will make it hard for the economy to begin a sustained recovery.
While the jobless rate rose more than expected, the economy shed a net total of 216,000 jobs, less than July's revised 276,000 and the fewest monthly losses in a year, according to Labor Department data released Friday. Economists expected the unemployment rate to rise to 9.5 percent from July's 9.4 percent and job reductions to total 225,000.
By contrast, in a healthy economy, employers need to add a net total of around 125,000 jobs a month just to keep the unemployment rate stable.
"It's good to see the rate of job losses slow down," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. But "we're still on track here to hit 10 percent (unemployment) before we're done."
The rise in the jobless rate was largely due to the government finding that the number of unemployed Americans jumped by nearly 500,000 to 14.9 million, while 73,000 people joined the civilian labor force. Those figures are from a different survey than the report on total job cuts.
The civilian labor force usually grows as a recession winds down and optimism about finding work grows. But as long as Americans remain anxious about their jobs, consumer spending isn't expected to rise enough to power a rebound.
"There isn't the underlying fuel there for strong consumer spending growth," Gault said.
Instead, most of the current rebound in the economy stems from auto companies and other manufacturers restocking inventories, which have plummeted as factories and retailers have sought to bring goods more in line with reduced sales.