[Marxism] NYT: Job Losses and Surge in Oil Spread Gloom on Economy

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Sat Jun 7 10:35:16 MDT 2008

June 7, 2008
Job Losses and Surge in Oil Spread Gloom on Economy
The unemployment rate surged to 5.5 percent in May from 5 percent — the
sharpest monthly spike in 22 years — as the economy lost 49,000 jobs,
registering a fifth consecutive month of decline, the Labor Department
reported Friday.

The weak jobs report, coupled with a staggering rise in the price of oil —
up a record $10.75 a barrel to more than $138 — unleashed a feverish
sell-off on Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones industrial average down
nearly 400 points. The dollar plunged against several major currencies.


Professional and business services — which include lawyers, accountants,
architects and management consultants — led the way down in May, shedding
39,000 jobs, according to the report. Construction declined by 34,000.

Manufacturing lost 26,000 jobs. Retail payrolls shrank by 27,000 and
transportation and warehousing by 10,500. Finance and insurance lost 3,700
jobs, amid continuing worries that more red ink lies in wait for banks.


The jobs picture has become particularly punishing for more vulnerable
communities, with unemployment among African-Americans leaping to 9.7
percent in May from 8.6 percent in April . Over the same period,
joblessness among those ages 16 to 19 climbed to 18.7 percent from 15.4

Health care remained a bright spot, adding 33,900 jobs in May, while
restaurants and bars added 11,400 jobs.

Even those with jobs have been losing ground. Average hourly wages for
rank-and-file American workers — roughly 80 percent of the American work
force — nudged up to $17.94 in May, an increase of about 3.5 percent
compared to a year earlier. But over the same period, rising food and gas
prices contributed to inflation of roughly 4 percent, more than canceling
out the buying power of the extra wages.


The unemployment rate does not count people who have given up looking for
work. Over all, the percentage of working age Americans employed dropped
to 62.6 percent in May from 63 percent a year earlier.

In recent months, many companies have been cutting working hours for those
on their payrolls, eschewing layoffs while hoping the economy improves.


In May, those working part time because they could not find full-time work
or because of slack business nudged up to 5.23 million, from 5.22 million.
But that was a much smaller increase than in the previous month, a
possible sign that businesses are running out of hours to cut: next, they
may have to resort to layoffs on a larger scale.

Michael Friedman
Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
City University of New York

Institute for Comparative Genomics
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street and Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Office: 212-313-8721
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que me regrese a mi tierra,
Porque aqui no quepo yo
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Yo no cruce la frontera,
la frontera me cruzo"
- Los Tigres del Norte

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