Almost 5 million Americans are considered long-term unemployed, meaning they have been searching for work for at least six months.
This week, their plight is getting a bit tougher as the government cuts their unemployment benefits — part of the automatic reductions in federal spending that took effect recently.
On a recent day, about 40 people turned out at a Manhattan jobs center run by the New York Labor Department to get advice on looking for work. These are all people who have been out of work for at least 27 weeks.
California's economy is a study in contrasts. The state's unemployment rate — 9.8 percent — is tied with Rhode Island for the highest in the country. Parts of the state are still suffering mightily from the housing collapse. But there are also large pockets of job growth and revival.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
At first blush, it might seem like good news from the Labor Department this morning: The unemployment rate that has been dropping in recent months fell again. It fell to 7.6 percent in March. But job growth was much weaker than expected. And the main reason that the rate went down is that a large number of people decided to leave the workforce. NPR's Yuki Noguchi joins us now. Hi, Yuki.
The forced budget cuts known as the "sequester" have not yet started to trickle down to the local level. But that hasn't stopped politicians from talking about what those cuts will mean. But business leaders in a city with strong aviation ties aren't looking at only the conversations in Washington as they plan their futures.
Lots of people are surely looking at today's jobs headlines somewhat puzzled, asking one significant question: How can it be that hiring was much worse than expected in March and the unemployment rate still fell — to 7.6 percent?
The answer isn't a happy one. There are a couple of ways the unemployment rate can fall.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program, we will speak with a Christian leader who's led his church to rethink both its politics and its worship. It's the Reverend Cecil Williams of San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church. He and his wife, who's also a church leader, will join us for a Faith Matters conversation in a few minutes.
The 11.7 million Americans searching for work got discouraging news Friday morning when the Labor Department said employers created only 88,000 jobs in March. The weak job growth comes at the same time benefits for the long-term unemployed are shrinking.
The smaller-than-expected increase in payrolls was a big disappointment, coming after a long stretch of much better results. Over the past year, employment growth has averaged 169,000 jobs a month.
But the nation's jobless rate still edged down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. That dip wasn't for a good reason, though: Nearly half a million fewer people were participating in the labor force. That smaller pool meant the jobless rate could tick down even as job growth was weak.