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July 2, 2009    

US unemployment rate hits 26-year high of 9.5%

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by Kay Murchie

Figures from the US Labor Department have revealed that the unemployment rate in the US rose from 9.4% in May to 9.5% in June.

While the rate of 9.5% was slightly lower than had been expected - it is still the highest since August 1983 with a total of 14.7 million people unemployed in June in the world‘s largest economy.

According to the figures, 467,000 people lost their jobs in June - much more than expected. Since the onset of the recession in December 2007, 6.5 million jobs have been lost with the unemployment rate rising 4.6 percentage points.

The manufacturing sector lost 136,000 during June, taking the total for the recession to 1.9 million job losses.

Meanwhile, the key services sector lost 244,000 jobs, including 21,000 in retail during June. There were job losses in all sectors apart from education and health care, which gained 34,000 in June.

Meanwhile, the reported showed a decline in the number of people receiving unemployment benefits by 53,000 to 6,702,000 in the week to June 20.

Keith Hembre, chief economist at FAF Advisors in Minneapolis, said: “The job market is terrible. It’s as bad as we’ve seen in our lifetime. The light at the end of tunnel is that we see some stability in domestic demand and some demand overseas.”

The news comes as the Eurostat agency revealed today that the unemployment rate in the 16-nations that share the European single currency rose from 9.3% in April to 9.5% in May - the highest rate since 1999.

According to Eurostat, 15 million people were out of work in May in the euro zone, up by 273,000 from the previous month.

Furthermore, the Central Statistics Office revealed yesterday that Irish unemployment hit a 13-year high in June, taking the unemployment rate up to 11.8%.

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