Unemployment Climbs, but Job Cuts Slow

By Toni Vranjes

June 5, 2009

The U.S. unemployment rate continued its upward climb in May, hitting 9.4 percent. It’s the highest level since August 1983.

The good news is that the pace of job losses continues to ease. The economy shed 345,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department. In contrast, monthly losses have averaged 643,000 during the previous six months.

In May, the pace of cuts slowed in construction and private services. But there was no relief for the manufacturing sector, which lost 156,000 jobs.

Since the beginning of the downturn in December 2007, employers have cut 6 million jobs.

Looking ahead, economic forecaster Nigel Gault says job declines will progressively soften. But Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight, predicts the unemployment rate will keep rising. He expects it to peak in the first half of 2010, at a rate slightly higher than 10 percent.

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