July Jobless Rate at 6.2%

WASHINGTON—The U.S. unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent in July, to 6.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.  A separate Labor Department survey said businesses claimed to create 209,000 new jobs, net, last month.

The number of unemployed rose by 197,000 last month, to 9.67 million, while another 131,000 people found jobs, BLS added.

The number of unemployed has fallen from a Great Recession high of around 10 percent.  It has never reached the pre-recession low of 5 percent, or the 4 percent mark it hit before former GOP President George W. Bush entered the White House, bringing his business backers and pro-corporate policies – which caused the crash – with him.

But the unemployment rate still understates joblessness.  One-third of the unemployed (32.9 percent) in July had been jobless for more than six months, meaning they’ve lost their federal unemployment benefits.  Those benefits ran out last Dec. 28 and Senate GOP filibusters have blocked them ever since.

While the official jobless rate is 6.2 percent, one of every eight workers (12.2 percent) are unemployed, toiling at part-time work even though they want full-time jobs and those workers so discouraged they’ve dropped out of searching for jobs.  Both that figure and the long-term jobless figure were virtually unchanged in July.

Companies reported adding jobs in both high-paying – construction and manufacturing – and low-paying economic sectors.  Factories said they added 28,000 jobs in July, with half of those in cars and parts.  Construction added 22,000, at the height of the construction season, and despite the problems facing road-building and bridge repairs due to lack of federal funds.

Construction firms reported adding almost two-thirds of their jobs in specialty construction, with 6.041 million workers toiling in July.  But that still left 666,000 construction workers, or 7.5 percent unemployed, BLS said.  Construction union leaders say that understates the jobless rate in that sector, since a worker toiling even one day during the survey week is counted as employed for the whole month.

Factories now employ 12.16 million workers, leaving 825,000 (5.2 percent) jobless.  Other than cars and parts, there were small gains and losses in all other factories.

On the other hand, retail trade added 26,700 jobs last month, health care added 21,000 jobs and bars and restaurants added 18,600 jobs.  Retail trade, the lowest-paying sector of the economy, now employs 3.7 million more people than factories do.

Governments added 11,000 jobs, the Labor Department added.  Seasonally adjusted, almost all of that gain was in local government, not including the schools.

-PAI