The national unemployment rate hit a 5-year high of 6.1 percent in August, up from 5.7 percent in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Sep. 5. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers classified as unemployed rose by 592,000 to 9.4 million in August, over two million more than a year ago.
Although some hiring was reported in government, education and healthcare, those gains were eclipsed by losses in: manufacturing and employment services, which cut 53,000 jobs; retail, which cut 20,000 jobs; construction, which cut 8000 jobs; and leisure and hospitality, which cut 4000 jobs.
The number of long-term unemployed – those jobless for 27 weeks or more -- rose by 163,000 to 1.8 million, an increase of 589,000 over the past 12 months. The newly unemployed -- those who were jobless fewer than 5 weeks -- rose by 400,000 in August.
"Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 2.2 million and the unemployment rate has risen by 1.4 percentage points, with most of the increase occurring over the past four months," the BLS report said.
"This thing is just lingering. It's almost like a storm that comes ashore and just kind of sits there," said Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board, a New York-based group that publishes indices of consumer sentiment. "We've seen declines every month, all year long, right through August. But the declines have started to intensify, and that will continue through the end of the year, very likely into the first months of 2009."