Jobless rate at 5.7%

By
Not a catastrophe and there were some silver linings in the dark clouds on unemployment. But overall, the economy is just plain weak; slow growth last quarter at 1.9%, wages not keeping pace with rising inflation, consumer confidence in the tank, profits mostly down, and sluggish retail sales.

Still, Friday's report from the Labor Department showed that the declines have softened since spring. The number of layoffs was less than the 75,000 that economists had expected, and the government said that businesses cut fewer jobs in June and May than first thought.

"The good news is there's been no acceleration in the official data," Robert Barbera, the chief economist of ITG, an economic research company. "The bad news is there's nothing about the data that suggests improvement anytime soon."

The rough job market worsened in July, with the unemployment rate rising to 5.7 percent from 5.5 percent in June, its highest level since March 2004.

"It's not that unemployment is rising because a lot of people are coming into the labor force," Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, said. "It's rising because employment is falling."

Part of the problem is no summer jobs for teens this year. Unemployment among the young stands at 19% - a 16 year high.

Manufacturing continued its decline, recording job losses for the 26th consecutive month. Hours worked per week also fell as many laid off workers, failing to find full time employment, were forced to get part time jobs.

With no technical recession but no improvement in sight, it might be a good idea for economists to come up with another term for what the US economy is experiencing. The Doldrums? Better than "recession" and probably a little more accurate.
Not a catastrophe and there were some silver linings in the dark clouds on unemployment. But overall, the economy is just plain weak; slow growth last quarter at 1.9%, wages not keeping pace with rising inflation, consumer confidence in the tank, profits mostly down, and sluggish retail sales.

Still, Friday's report from the Labor Department showed that the declines have softened since spring. The number of layoffs was less than the 75,000 that economists had expected, and the government said that businesses cut fewer jobs in June and May than first thought.

"The good news is there's been no acceleration in the official data," Robert Barbera, the chief economist of ITG, an economic research company. "The bad news is there's nothing about the data that suggests improvement anytime soon."

The rough job market worsened in July, with the unemployment rate rising to 5.7 percent from 5.5 percent in June, its highest level since March 2004.

"It's not that unemployment is rising because a lot of people are coming into the labor force," Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, said. "It's rising because employment is falling."

Part of the problem is no summer jobs for teens this year. Unemployment among the young stands at 19% - a 16 year high.

Manufacturing continued its decline, recording job losses for the 26th consecutive month. Hours worked per week also fell as many laid off workers, failing to find full time employment, were forced to get part time jobs.

With no technical recession but no improvement in sight, it might be a good idea for economists to come up with another term for what the US economy is experiencing. The Doldrums? Better than "recession" and probably a little more accurate.