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Job losses dip, unemployment rate rises


Though the rate of job losses continued to moderate in August, the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent. Nearly 7 million people have lost their jobs since the official start of the recession in December 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said today.

A broader measure of unemployment that includes people who have given up looking for work or who work part time for economic reasons rose to 16.8 percent last month, the BLS said.

The number of people unemployed for more than six months – the long-term unemployed – stood at 5 million in August, nearly quadruple the number at the start of the recession. In addition, 9.1 million people were working part time because they could not find full-time jobs. The proportion of the population holding a job dropped to 59.2 percent, the BLS said.

Nonfarm employment dropped by 216,000 in August, the agency said, leaving 14.9 million people out of work. The agency revised July’s job-loss figures to 276,000 from a previously reported 247,000. In June, 463,000 people lost their jobs.

Construction, manufacturing and financial services experienced the brunt of job josses, with the health-care industry continuing to report increases in hiring, the BLS said.

Average hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory workers increased 6 cents to $18.64, the BLS said. However, weekly earnings have shown modest gains because employers have reduced hours worked. The average workweek was 33.1 hours last month, little changed from previous months.

The Washington Post said today that the increase in the unemployment rate was greater than economists had anticipated.

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