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May 05, 2003
Unemployment Back Up to 6 Percent in April
The unemployment rate rose to 6.0 percent in April, and nonfarm payroll employment edged down by 48,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday. In April, job losses continued in manufacturing, some travel-related industries, and department stores.

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The number of unemployed persons increased to 8.8 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose from 5.8 to 6.0 percent. The unemployment rate has ranged from 5.6 to 6.0 percent since November 2001.

In April, 4.8 million persons were working part time even though they would have preferred a full-time schedule. The number of such workers increased by about 600,000 over the year. In April, 1.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, the same as a year earlier. These individuals wanted and were available to work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed, however, because they did not actively search for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. There were 437,000 discouraged workers in April, up from 320,000 in April 2002. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, were not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them.

Total employment, as measured by the household survey, edged up to 137.7 million in April; the employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged at 62.4 percent. The civilian labor force increased by 680,000 over the month to 146.5 million, after seasonal adjustment. The labor force participation rate rose by 0.2 percentage point to 66.4 percent, 0.7 percentage point below the rate at the start of the recession.

Manufacturing job losses totaled 95,000 in April, more than twice the average monthly decline for the prior 12 months (-40,000).

Several travel-related industries continued to lose jobs in April. Employment in amusement and recreation services and in hotels decreased by 41,000 and 20,000, respectively, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

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