Jobless rate surges to 5.5 cent in US

June 6th, 2008 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 6 (DPA) The US unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May from 5 percent a month earlier as another 49,000 jobs were lost over the period, the Labour Department said Friday. It was the largest monthly increase in two decades and the jobless rate now stands at its highest level since 2004. The new figures are likely to further erode confidence in an already drastically slowed economy in the United States.

A total of 324,000 jobs have now been lost since the beginning of the year as every month has seen a decline in employment. The number of jobs shed in May was actually less than expected - economists surveyed by Bloomberg financial news had predicted a 60,000 drop in payrolls.

The Labour Department also revised its March and April figures, adding another 15,000 lost jobs.

The figures will likely fuel speculation that the world’s largest economy may be entering a recession. US growth slowed to 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of 2008.

The department said the May rise in unemployment was mostly in the construction, manufacturing and retail sectors. Added jobs in health care were the lone bright spot.

Average hourly earnings increased 0.3 percent in May to $17.94.

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