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May Unemployment Rises, But Fewer Jobs Lost Than in Previous Months

06/05/2009
The U.S. economy lost 345,000 jobs in May and the national unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. While the rate is an increase of 0.5 percent over the previous month, the actual number of jobs lost is approximately half of the average monthly loss over the past six months. Manufacturing lost 156,000 jobs in May, with approximately half coming from three durable goods sectors: motor vehicles and parts (30,000), machinery (26,000), and fabricated metal products (19,000); Labor says that since its peak in February 2000, employment in motor vehicles and parts has fallen approximately 50 percent. In other industries, construction decreased by 59,000; business and professional services by 51,000; financial services by 30,000; and wholesale trade by 22,000. Education and healthcare employment rose, while government employment was flat. Industry analysts say the employment numbers have likely not yet bottomed out. "There's no question that the jobless rate is going to continue to rise," says Bernard Baumohl, managing director of the Economic Outlook Group, quoted in The New York Times. "It's a dismal job market. It's going to remain awful easily for the balance of this year." Some economists, though, are slightly more optimistic. "Things are still getting worse, but the pace of decline has slowed down," says David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poors, also quoted in the Times. "Overall, it's not quite as dire as it looked in the first quarter." Figures for June will be released by Labor on July 2.

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