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In these difficult times, when it seems everything is declining -- corporate profits, individual incomes, assorted varieties and levels of a thing we used to call "hope" -- one thing grows ever larger and more robust: our unemployment rate. Let's hear it for the magical number 9.5, for that is the percentage of Americans who currently don't have jobs.


When our beloved Labor Department reported a 9.4 percent unemployment rate in May, people high-fived each other in the streets because it seemed we had reached the true pinnacle of unemployment success. Who would have thought we'd be able to do ourselves one smidge better? And yet!

The American economy shed 467,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent from 9.4 percent, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. Job losses were widespread among the construction, manufacturing and business and professional services sectors.

The losses were sharply higher than economists’ expectations of 365,000 lost jobs.

Two things to note. Number one, economists all agree that jobs are a lagging indicator, which is to say, employers tend to wait until the economy's been better for a while before they start hiring again.

We may expect employment statistics [to] look poor well past the trough of consumer spending that may occur in late 2009 and 2010. As always, savvy economic observers and investors should disregard this lagging indicator in forecasting economic direction.

Number two, Barack Obama has been in office for five whole months of this 20-month recession, so clearly the dismal job numbers are all his fault.

Job Losses Rise in June as Unemployment Reaches 9.5% [New York Times]

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