U.S. unemployment rate up to 9.7%

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 34 views 

The national unemployment rate hit 9.7% in August, up from 9.4% in July and up significantly over the 6.2% rate in August 2008.

The number of unemployed increased by 466,000 in August to 14.9 million. Since the recession began in December 2007, the number of unemployed has risen by 7.4 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 4.8 percentage points, according to information from the U.S. Department of Labor.

U.S. manufacturing employment continued to fall, with a loss of 63,000 jobs in August. The pace of job loss has slowed throughout manufacturing in recent months. The auto sector —  including parts manufacturers — cut 15,000 jobs in August.

The financial sector cut 28,000 jobs in August, with those losses “spread throughout the industry,” according to the DOL. Employment in the sector has declined by 537,000 since the start of the recession.

Health care jobs, however, continued to see employment growth in August, with 28,000 jobs added. Most of the gains were in ambulatory care and nursing and residential care, the DOL noted. The health care sector has added 544,000 jobs since the start of the recession

"This past August, the economy lost 216,000 jobs – fewer than what most experts expected. The overall unemployment rate is now 9.7 percent. Last month’s jobs loss is an improvement from the average 700,000 jobs our economy was losing every month when this administration took office, but is still by no means acceptable,” noted a statement from U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Soli. "These numbers are a sobering reminder that our economic conditions continue to cause pain for many Americans and that families are having a difficult time simply covering their daily necessities, much less planning for the future.”

July — the most recent numbers for Arkansas and the Fort Smith metro area — marked an end to nine consecutive months of manufacturing employment decline in the Fort Smith metro area, with the area unemployment rate dropping from 7.8% in June to 7.7% in July. The Arkansas unemployment rate in July was 7.4%, up from 7.2% in June.