Joblessness still hangs over an improving economy

Associated Press + More

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment under President Barack Obama has remained high for the longest period since the Great Depression. Despite a slowly improving job market, the millions of Americans without jobs underscore weakness in the recovery, drag down consumer spending and still roil the nation's politics.

Ahead of the government's release of June jobs data on Friday, economists predict employers added 165,000 jobs last month. That's far short of the number of new jobs needed to push the unemployment rate down significantly. It's been above 7.5 percent for 53 months and is currently at 7.6 percent.

No one is suggesting the elevated jobless numbers are a new normal. But they will take time to bring down, adding pressure on the economy and creating political problems for Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress.

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