Labor Department reports fewer jobs, lower wages

WASHINGTON --- Americans lucky enough to still have a job are noticing something unpleasant in their paychecks: They're making less money.


Employers cut 467,000 jobs in June, far more than expected, and the jobless rate hit a 26-year high of 9.5 percent. Just as worrisome, wages shrank to their lowest in nearly a year.

The bleak news Thursday from the Labor Department underscored one of the big threats to an economic turnaround: Rising joblessness and falling wages for those still working could send Americans back into spending hibernation and short-circuit any recovery.

President Obama acknowledged concern.

"What we're still seeing is too many jobs lost, too many families who are worried about whether they're going to be next in terms of job loss, or whether they can find another," he told The Associated Press.

The falling wages come from furloughs, pay freezes and pay cuts imposed by employers across the country. Many also have cut hours: The average work week in June fell to 33 hours, the lowest on records dating to 1964.

Nathan Bieber, 26, who works at Einstein Bros. Bagels in Phoenix, works 28 to 30 hours a week now, down from his previous 37 -- a loss of up to $100 weekly. He has canceled his Internet service and deferred payments on student loans six times.

His wife, who is legally blind and works at another Einstein Bros. location, has had her hours slashed from 30 to 15. They rely on her disability pay for rent and the electric bill.

"If it weren't for that," he said, "we'd be homeless."

Job losses had decreased every month since January, but they rose in June. The 467,000 job losses were up from 322,000 in May and far worse than the 363,000 economists were expecting.

By comparison, the rise in the unemployment rate for June was small, up just a tenth of a percentage point to 9.5 percent. Many economists predict it will hit 10 percent this year and keep rising into next year before falling back.

Including laid-off workers who have given up looking for jobs or have settled for part-time work, the so-called underemployment rate was 16.5 percent in June -- the highest on records dating to 1994.

"Whatever is available, you kind of have to take it," said Shirley Walker, 58, who lost her job running a nonprofit group in Orlando, Fla.

Average weekly earnings fell about $2 in June to $611.49, the lowest in nearly a year.


14.7 million: People unemployed in June 2009, the most ever in records dating to 1948

12.1 million: People unemployed in December 1982, the record before the current downturn

9.5 percent: Unemployment rate in June 2009

August 1983: Last time the unemployment rate was this high

10.8 percent: Unemployment rate in December 1982, the highest since World War II


29 percent: The proportion of the unemployed who have been out of work six months or longer, a record

24.5 weeks: The average length of unemployment in June, also a record

4.38 million: The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or longer

1.32 million: The number unemployed for that long in December 2007, when the recession began


8.9 million: Number of part-time workers who would have preferred full-time work last month

2.17 million: People without jobs who wanted to work, were available and had looked in the past 12 months, but had not looked in the past month.

16.5 percent: Unemployment rate if you include involuntary part-time workers and those without jobs who hadn't looked for work in 12 months -- the highest in records dating to 1994