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Evan as Washington ignores jobs bills and slashes help for long-term unemployed workers the economy may be starting to fall back. The economy added 431,000 jobs in May, but 411,000 of those were temporary census workers. Compare this to last month when businesses added 218,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate remains very high at 9.7%, dropping only because 322,000 more people gave up looking. And long-term unemployment — the “lazy” ones whose COBRA benefits Congress killed last week — grew. “The number of people out of work six months or longer reached 6.76 million in May, a new high. They made up 46 percent of all unemployed people, also a record high.”

Dean Baker, Unemployment Falls to 9.7 Percent, But Private Sector Job Growth Slows: “Excluding Census workers, job growth has just kept pace with the growth in the labor force over the last 3 months.”

Construction lost 35,000 jobs. Retail lost 6,600 jobs.

Areas not losing jobs showed slowing jobs growth. Employment services gained 34,000 after having added 75,000 a month from October through January. Health care added 13,011 after adding an average 20,000 a month through the prior 12 months. Restaurants added 5,500 jobs in May down from an average of 19,000 jobs over the last four months.

A big one: state and local governments lost 22,000 jobs, and this loss is expected to grow in coming months.

Manufacturing, fortunately, was up.

Dean concludes:

This report is a clear warning that the recovery is very weak. The weakness is in spite of the temporary stimulus provided by the hiring of 550,000 Census workers. With house prices falling again, severe state and local budget cutbacks looming, and troubles in Europe dampening exports, the future is not bright.

Except for the President, who said, “This report is a sign that our economy is getting stronger by the day,” reaction was mostly negative.

Wall Street Journal: Reaction to Jobs Report: Disappointing.

Washington Post, Bad Jobs Report.

NPR, Disappointing.

Some good news, the President and Labor Secretary called on Congress to extend unemployment benefits and COBRA,

President Obama called for an extension of unemployment benefits, and Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis called on Congress to also extend health coverage.

“We continue to push for programs to help unemployed workers make it through this difficult time,” Ms. Solis said in a statement. “I call on Congress to extend the unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidy provisions in the Recovery Act through the end of the year.”

But will Congress listen to reality, or to the Wall Street deficit cutters.

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