Unemployment In United States At Highest Level In Four Years

The unemployment rate in the United States has reached its highest level in four years, reports the New York Times. Topping off at a jobless rate of 5.7 percent in July, the labor market shed 51,000 jobs this past month. Young people have been particularly affected by the downturn in the job market, especially for those seeking first jobs, as the teenage unemployment rate has hit 19 percent, its highest point in 16 years.

The unemployment rate was one more piece in a worrisome series of recent events, including store closings and layoffs at coffee behemoth Starbucks and a $15.5 billion loss posted by GM this past quarter. Despite this, economists have yet to declare the current state of the economy officially as a recession, given that the latest reports show that the nation’s GDP is still increasing (albeit at a slower pace than expected). These factors further muddle the country’s economic outlook, as few people seem to know what to make of it--earlier this week the New York Times ran the headline “GDP Grows at Tepid 1.9% Pace Despite Stimulus,” while the Washington Post simultaneously ran the headline “US Economic Growth Improves Over First Quarter,” both citing identical government statistics.

Even the jobless data sent mixed signals, with the 51,000 jobs lost significantly less than the 75,000 that were predicted to disappear. Either way, rising unemployment is never good for the economy, and in comparison to the relatively abstract concept of gross domestic product, layoffs have a much more tangible impact on the average American.


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