America’s unemployment figures continue to climb

June 6th, 2009 - 12:13 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

The number of people unemployed in the US rocketed to a 26-year high of 9.4 percent of the workforce in May, according to government figures released on Friday.

According to the Department of Labors monthly report 345,000 Americans joined the jobless queue last month, significantly fewer than the 504,000 forecast and about half of the monthly losses experienced over the last six months.

What is more alarming though is the long-term unemployment rate, with the government saying that 4.5 percent of the workforce has been out of work for 15 weeks or more.

Put another way, 21 percent of those who are now unemployed have been out of work for at least 15 weeks – a record, exceeding the 19.6 percent seen during the 1958 recession.

The report showed the goods-producing sector cut 225,000 jobs, including 156,000 in manufacturing and 59,000 in construction.

Services lost 120,000 positions including 18,000 in the retail sector.

The latest figures show 14.5 million Americans unemployed in May, a figure that has risen by seven million since the start of the recession in December 2007.

In that time the unemployment rate has grown by 4.5 percentage points, with the number of private-sector jobs down by 5.4 percent.

Overall the number of available jobs is down six million from the December 2007 peak, while private-sector employment is down 6.3 million.

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