Washington Report: Updates From the Capitol

African American jobless rate contracts slightly; White House AIDS summit

More Than 400,000 Jobs Created in May

The nation’s unemployment rate, fell to 9.7% in May from 9.9% in April, due in part to the creation of 431,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. The government’s hiring of 411,000 temporary Census count workers fueled much of that boost.

African Americans had reason to cheer the latest report on news that the unemployment rate for blacks dropped one percentage point from 16.5% to 15.5%. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said she was pleased that the African American jobless rate had lowered, but couldn’t say unequivocally if it was because of the temporary Census jobs or a long-awaited move in the right direction of the economy.

“It’s hard to say because I don’t have all of that data, but I also was pleased to see it did tick down,” she said during a conference call, adding that black unemployment figures would improve even more once Congress passes a bill that would provide $1.2 billion for a summer youth employment program. The House passed its version of the measure before leaving for the Memorial Day recess; a Senate vote is expected to take place when lawmakers return to Washington on June 8. The bill also would extend unemployment benefits and COBRA.

Healthcare employment was little changed in May; however, over the prior 12 months, healthcare employment had increased by an average of 20,000 per month.  Manufacturing employment increased by 29,000 over the month and temporary help services added 31,000 jobs over the month.

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