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CNN Financial News Producer
We got a wave of jobs data this morning ahead of the long holiday weekend – and most of it troubling as the labor market took a step backwards last month.
Employers trimmed 467,000 jobs from their payrolls in June, compared with a revised loss of 322,000 jobs in May. This was the first time in four months that the number of jobs lost rose from the prior month.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose for the ninth straight month - climbing to 9.5% from 9.4% and hitting another 26-year high. But that was actually better than expectations.
However, the report contained even more discouraging data.
The average hourly work week fell to 33 hours in May, the lowest it's been since the Labor Department started keeping records in 1964. That translates into smaller paychecks for workers.
And the number of people out of work for six months or more climbed to nearly 4.4 million - a record high.
The only piece of good news on the labor market came from a separate report showing the tally of newly laid-off workers filing for unemployment insurance dropped last week, a sign job cuts are easing.
Initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 16,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 614,000.
And the number of Americans continuing to receive unemployment insurance for one week or more dropped by 53,000 to 6.7 million, defying analysts' expectations of a small rise.
Optimism about the economy stalls
A new national poll indicates that nearly half of all Americans think the economy has stabilized, but only one in eight believes that a recovery has started.
Four in 10 questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released today think the country is still in an economic downturn.
"Although polls in recent months have shown some signs of growing optimism, that appears to have stalled," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In January, 50% said the economy was in very poor shape; that figure dropped to 37% in April, but now it has risen slightly, to 41%."
"The prevailing view? We're in a stall," said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.
The poll does suggest that when it comes to an economic recovery, Americans agree with President Barack Obama. Discussing the economy last week at a news conference at the White House, Obama said, "We're still not at actual recovery yet. So I anticipate that this is going to be a difficult, difficult year."
Gas prices keep falling ahead of holiday
Gas prices dropped 1-tenth of a cent overnight to $2.629. That’s the 11th straight day of declines.
In the last 11 days the average price has decreased 6.4 cents, or 2.3 percent. The average price of a gallon of gas is also down $1.485, or 36 percent, from the record high price of $4.114 that AAA reported on July 17, 2008.
The highest gas prices are in Hawaii ($3.202). The cheapest are in Missouri ($2.421).
Manhattan home prices plunge
The housing bust has finally clobbered super-pricey Manhattan home prices.
Reports released Thursday by four major New York brokers show that prices cratered during the three months that ended June 30.
Prices fell between 13% and 19% compared with the same quarter last year. The brokers found median prices that ranged from $795,000 to $849,000.
The decline shows a marked turn from the first quarter of 2009, when the year-over-year change in median home prices ranged from a loss of 2% to a gain of 6%.
Another change in the recent period: More people are buying.
The number of sales picked up by more than 28% in the second quarter, due to what the CEO of one real estate brokerage firm called “value-based shopping” by buyers.
Of course, in Manhattan "value" means studio prices that go for a median of $400,000 and one-bedrooms that fetch $650,000.
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