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U.S. mired in employment rut after jobless numbers rise: economists


19:40, June 08, 2013

WASHINGTON, June 8 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. jobless rate ticked up Friday, underscoring analysts' woes that the nation is stuck in a jobless rut.

"At this pace, it will take more than six years to get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate," said Heidi Shierholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute, writing on the organization' s website.

The jobless rate climbed to 7.6 percent and the economy added 175,000 jobs on Friday.

The nation still needs to make up for 8.5 million jobs, she said. That number takes into account those jobs lost during the downturn and the number of jobs needed to keep pace with the number of new entrants into the job market, such as recent high school and college grads.

The economy needs more than 300,000 jobs per month to get to full employment by May 2016, three years from now and six months before the next presidential election, she argued.

"At the job growth rate of the last year, we will still have a deficit of 4.6 million jobs in May 2016," she said.

The labor force participation rate ticked up to 63.4 percent, just one-tenth of a percentage point above its low during the downturn and far below its pre-recession rate of 66 percent in December 2007, she noted.

This increase shouldn' t be interpreted as an indication that job opportunities have improved enough to start consistently drawing missing workers -- who number more than an estimated 4 million -- back into the labor force, she said.

It is unlikely that workers who are out of the labor force due to few job opportunities are going to join the labor force in large numbers until job prospects are stronger, she argued.

Currently, median unemployed workers have been actively searching for a job for around four months, she noted.

Other experts said the world' s largest economy has made progress in recent years, but at a snail' s pace.

"Over the past 39 months we have made fairly steady progress toward closing the job gap, but the pace of improvement remains painfully slow," said Brookings Institution Senior Fellow in Economic Studies Gary Burtless, in an email to reporters on Friday.

The fraction of adults who hold jobs held steady in May. Among Americans aged 16 and older, 58.6 percent were employed, roughly the same employment-to-population ratio the U.S. has seen since December 2011, he noted.

"This indicator seems to suggest the nation has made scant progress in recovering from the recession. A more accurate interpretation is that progress, at least in the job market, has been slow but steady," he added.

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