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Unemployment rate stays at 9.5

Joseph Wright | 8/18/2010, 5 p.m.

Many United Sates companies and businesses displayed their lack of confidence about hiring for the third consecutive month in July, giving indications that the nation's economy will continue to grow slowly for the rest of the year. As a result the unemployment rate held steady at 9.5 percent.

Private employers added a net total of 71,000 jobs last month, which is well below the 200,000 or more jobs needed each month to reduce the unemployment rate.

The modest gains were further diminished after factoring in the loss of government jobs at the local, state, and federal levels in July that weren't temporary census positions. With those considered, the net gains were only 12,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department's July report.

President Barack Obama recently noted that the economy has now added private-sector jobs for seven straight months. He applauded that as a good sign. He however, added "Progress needs to come faster."

Overall, the economy lost 131,000 jobs last month, primarily because 143,000 temporary census jobs ended.

The "underemployment" rate checked in at 16.5 percent, the same rate as in June of this year.

Those considered "underemployed" are people who are working part-time but who would prefer to have full-time work, and unemployed workers who have given up on their job hunts.

Overall there were 14.6 million people looking for work in July. That is approximately the same number that were looking in December 2007, when the recession began. The economy lost 8.4 million jobs in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, private employers have added 559,000 new jobs, according to the Labor Department. The situation is being watched closely by the Federal Reserve, as it considers ways to energize the recovery.

President Obama recently said that recovery is coming slowly but surely. "A lot of it is like recovering from an illness," he explained. "You get a little bit stronger each day. Slowly but surely we are moving in the right direction. The economy is getting stronger," the president stressed.

"But it really suffered a big trauma."

However, without more jobs, consumers will not see increases in income needed to encourage them to spend more and support economic activity.

According to a recent poll conducted by Associated Press and the market research firm GfK, 61 percent of those surveyed believe the economy has stayed the same or has gotten worse under Obama's administration. Americans are also grown frustrated with the slow progress the chief executive has made in bringing the country out of the recession created by the failed economic policies of previous President George W. Bush. Only 41 percent approve of his handling of the economy.

In spite of those statistics, 75 percent of those surveyed said that it is unrealistic to expect noticeable economic improvements in the first year and a half of a president's first term.

Additionally, President Obama's approval-rating remained unchanged at 49 percent. That is likely because of his personal appeal and charisma.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in California was at 12.3 percent as of this writing. Los Angeles' jobless rate was at 12.2 percent. The situation in the Antelope Valley was even less encouraging. Palmdale's unemployment rate was at 15.2 percent and Lancaster's was a staggering 17.1 percent. Unemployment among Blacks in California was recorded at 15 percent.

According to University of California-Berkeley Labor Policy Specialist Steven Pitts, the Black unemployment rate across the nation was almost double the country's average at 15.4 percent.

"Going deeper inside the numbers," Pitts pointed out, "you find that 17.4 percent of Black men are unemployed. Among Black women the percentage is 11.8."

Further adding to the July's employment stagnation, was the fact that the number of temporary jobs fell by 5,600. That represented the first drop after nine months of gains. On the plus side, manufacturers added 36,000 jobs in July, which is slightly above the industry's 2010 monthly average.