In another sign that the economy might finally be stabilizing, the US unemployment rate slightly decreased from 9.5% in June to 9.4% in July, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This marked the first decline in the unemployment rate since April 2008, writes RetailerDaily.
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 247,000 in July. Following are selected highlights from the July 2009 unemployment report:
- The number of unemployed Americans decreased by about 200,000, from 14.7 million to 14.5 million.
- Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 7.2 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 4.5 percentage points.
- The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) rose by 584,000 during the month to 5 million, a roughly 7.5% increase. In July, one in three unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more.
- The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage points in July, from 65.7% to 65.5%. The employment-population ratio, at 59.4%, was little changed during the month but has declined by 3.3 percentage points from 62.6% since the recession began in December 2007.
- Retail trade employment declined by 44,000, after declining by an average of 27,000 during the previous three months. Retail trade employment fell by 21,000 in June.
The first drop in unemployment in 16 months, even by 0.1 percentage point, can only be viewed as a positive economic development, Retailer Daily said. However, other recent economic indicators remain mixed. US consumers saw their personal income and disposable personal income (DPI) drop in June 2009, but still increased spending.
On the positive side, US retail sales rose 0.6% in June 2009. The US trade deficit shrank 9.7% in May 2009. Consumer credit decreased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.5% in May 2009, while borrowing figures for April 2009 show that US consumers decreased borrowing by 16%.
On the negative side, the Consumer Confidence Index dropped from 49.3 in June 2009 to 46.6 in July 2009 amid continued job worries, among other things.? In addition, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) shrank 1.2% in Q2 2009, and the RPI (Restaurant Performance Index) slid from 98.3 in May 2009 to 97.8 in May 2009, registering its second straight decline after five consecutive months of growth.