Unemployment overall decreased slightly from 8.2 to 8.1 percent over the last month, according to the Department of Labor, but that was largely because of a drop in the number of people seeking jobs, a sign they are still struggling to find work. It was the second straight month the number of Americans with jobs declined.
At the same time, the overall direction of the economy is positive; the jobless rate was 9.0 percent in April 2011.
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The report suggests that the economy recovery that started in 2009 remains uneven, and could complicate President Obama’s re-election prospects. When Obama entered office three years ago, the jobless rate was 7.2 percent, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s campaign against the president is likely to focus on the increase in unemployment.
The lackluster jobs report comes at a bad time for Obama, who will formally kick off his re-election campaign at rallies in Ohio and Virginia on Saturday.
But the news is slightly encouraging for black workers. For much of the last several years, the black jobless rate has been more than double than that of white workers, but that is no longer the case. In this latest report, the white jobless rate is 7.4 percent. The Hispanic unemployment rate is 10.3 percent.
The black jobless rate is significantly lower than it was in April 2010 (16.5 percent) and April 2011 (15.8 percent).
At the same time, much of the decrease for in the jobless rate for blacks, like for the overall population, came because some people have stopped looking for jobs.
About 12.5 million Americans, including about 2.3 million African-Americans, remain unemployed.
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