September 4th, 2009
12:47 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Unemployment rate jumps to 9.7%

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/04/t1home.unemployment.line.gi.jpg caption="Companies trimmed fewer jobs in August than they did the prior month, but the unemployment rate jumped to a 26-year high." width=292 height=320]
Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Companies trimmed fewer jobs in August than they did the prior month, but the unemployment rate jumped to a 26-year high.

Employers cut a fewer-than-expected 216,000 jobs in the month, according to the Labor Department. That was the fewest jobs lost since August 2008 and lower than the revised loss of 276,000 jobs in July.

But even with the lower numbers, nearly 7 million jobs have been cut from payrolls since the start of 2008.

And the unemployment rate, which in July fell for the first time in 15 months, turned higher again, jumping to 9.7% from 9.4% in July. This is the highest the unemployment rate has been since June 1983.

The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households, while the payroll numbers come from a survey of employers - which explains why unemployment rose even though there were fewer job cuts.

The report also shows that more than 9 million workers were limited to part-time jobs in August because they couldn't find full-time positions. That an increase of 278,000 from the month before.

Need a job? Ask the Feds

If you don't have a job, there's at least one reason to celebrate this Labor Day.

The federal government is expected to hire nearly 273,000 new workers over the next three years, according to a report released on Thursday.

The 41% spike in job growth reflects "a need to replace retiring baby boomers and those leaving federal service for other reasons," according to the non-profit Partnership for Public Service, which surveyed the 35 federal agencies with more than 1,000 employees.

The agency posting the largest increase in the number of available "mission critical jobs" is the Department of Veteran Affairs, which is expected to hire more than 48,000 new workers by 2012.

Most of the new hires - 55,000 - will be from the public health field. In fact, more than half of the VA's hiring will come from the medical profession: The agency's hospitals will need 25,000 nurses and 8,500 doctors nationwide.

The wide, weird world of stimulus spending

The government has spent about $85 billion on Recovery Act projects so far, but not all of money is being used to fix roads, provide more Medicare aid to states, amp up clean energy programs or school repair.

There are currently just under 22,000 contracts for stimulus projects. They range from just a few pennies for nuts and bolts at a local hardware store to billions of dollars for nuclear waste cleanup.

But if you dig a little deeper, and you'll find stimulus money has also funded an electric oyster shell dispersal cart, ice machines, $25 million of pork and ham, a reach-in freezer, $3 million worth of auto lawyers, office furniture and nine water safety mascot costumes.

If some of those projects make you scratch your head, you're not alone. CNNMoney.com took a peek into the world of stimulus diversity.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN

Filed under: Economy
soundoff (One Response)
  1. roy alexander

    What did Pres. Regan do to get the Unemployment on track?
    I remember the national unemployment rate hit 12 percent...what did he do to fix it?
    Maybe there is something remembered to fix todays problem...

    September 4, 2009 at 4:57 pm |