National jobless rate hits 26 year high

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - New unemployment numbers aren't giving job seekers a whole lot to enjoy. But some industries are still looking to add workers.

The national unemployment rate hasn't been this high in 26 years, but experts seem to think a turnaround is coming this year. Employers nationwide said goodbye to nearly half-a-million more workers in June. Many in manufacturing, retail, and professional services.

As a result, the national unemployment rate hit 9.5% - this highest it's been since 1983. Up a fraction since the month before.

Bill Mezger is Chief Economist for the Virginia Employment Commission and he continues to see heavy competition for jobs.

"The students coming out of the colleges were coming into the worst job market in nearly 30 years. And then too you have adult workers who have become unemployed and they're applying for the same kind of jobs," said Mezger.

In Richmond, the latest numbers available show the unemployment rate is not as bad. It hit 8.1% in May - up from 7.5% in April.

At, where the number of users applying for hourly jobs is up 140-percent, some trends are emerging.

"We do have positions on the site that are open right now and are looking for applicants, but we're seeing those positions in categories like fast food or value retail," said Cathy McCarthy,

The healthcare sector also appears in need of workers. But it's still a lot of work - to land a job.

"I do think that people need to be open to lots of different types of jobs, don't get fixed on one particular thing. And it may be that you have to look at a part time job, or a job that's not in your career field," Cathy said.

And experts expect the competition to last a while.

"I think by the end of the year, or more likely into 2010, you'll begin to see some genuine improvement. Workers who manage to keep their jobs, are also getting hurt," said Mezger.

The average weekly paycheck dropped two dollars in June, from $613 to $611.

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