Unemployment Rate Hits 9.7%
Employers cut back payrolls more than expected in August, according to unemployment numbers released by the Department of Labor Friday. The jobless rate rose to 9.7% last month– the highest since 1983 — as companies slashed 216,000 jobs, after cutting 225,000 jobs in July.
A 15% unemployment rate for African Americans in August brought an end to a three-month downward trend. Blacks are still hit hard by the volatile economy, with unemployment almost 4 ½ percentage points higher, year-over-year.
“It’s still likely that the unemployment rate will continue to increase until next year,” says Algernon Austin, director of the race, ethnicity, and economy program at the Economic Policy Institute. While some economists say the Obama administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package has helped to slash unemployment numbers, it still may not be enough.
“[The stimulus] is working, but the problem is far worse than the administration realized,” Austin says.
Of the five million workers that have been unemployed for at least six months, African Americans make up a disproportionate number of those facing long-term unemployment, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
In August, manufacturing employment continued to trend downward, with a decline of 63,000. The construction industry lost 65,000 jobs. Financial activities shed 28,000 jobs in August, with declines spread throughout the industry. Factories cut 63,000, while retailers slashed 9,600 positions. Employment in health care continued to rise in August adding 28,000. Overall there were 14.9 million unemployed in August.