Marking a potentially worrisome trend in the United States economy, the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) on Friday revealed that for the month of June the unemployment rate ticked up by one percentage point to 9.2 per cent, and over 14 million people still remained without a job.
The only spot of good news was that private sector payrolls continued their plodding upward march, increasing by 57,000 in June having added 2.2 million jobs over the past 16 months.
Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, admitted cause for concern when he said, “This month’s report reflects the recent slowdown of economic growth due to headwinds faced in the first half of this year. The unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn.”
Shifting the focus from some of the political barriers to job-creating policies, Mr. Goolsbee added that the grim news on unemployment underscored the need for bipartisan action, for example, through measures such as extending payroll tax cut, passing pending free trade agreements, and creating an infrastructure bank.
With the looming August 2 deadline for raising the constitutionally-mandated debt limit of $14.3 trillion, Mr. Goolsbee stressed that faster job creation also required “a balanced approach to deficit reduction that instills confidence and allows us to live within our means without short-changing future growth.”
Currently negotiations between President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress have come down to a tussle between the Republican push for expenditure cuts to major programmes such as Social Security and the Democrats’ focus on tax revenues.
Regarding the June unemployment results, the BLS noted that among the sectors with employment increases were leisure and hospitality, health care, and manufacturing. Sectors with employment declines included government, financial activities, and construction, the BLS added. Local governments, many reeling under the pressure of large deficits at the state level, were said to have lost 18,000 jobs in June and have shed 355,000 jobs since the start of 2010.