US unemployment hits 9.4%

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The US unemployment rate is now at its second highest level since records began in 1948. It was only higher in the early 1980’s, at 10.9% in December 1982. It rose last month to 9.4%, and is now above the May 1975 peak of 9%.

The only positive sign is that the pace of job losses has slowed, now destocking is coming to an end. At its worst, Q1 saw an average loss of 700k/ month, but May’s figure was around half of this at 345k.

However, the economy still faces the headwind of 6 million jobs having been lost since the downturn began in December 2007. The ACC also notes that manufacturing employment fell below 12 million for the first time since the 1940’s. Whilst Barrons, the US investment magazine, reports that 14.5 million Americans are now out of work according to the regular payroll data, and that another 10 million have either given up job-hunting, or have settled for part-time employment.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. He also serves as a Global Expert for the World Economic Forum. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry and the global economy over the next 12 – 18 months. It looks behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in critical areas such as oil prices, China and Emerging Markets, currencies, autos, housing, economic growth and the environment. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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