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September 06, 2002
Unemployment Rate Dips Unexpectedly
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The Labor Department announced Friday that the nation's unemployment rate in August was 5.7 percent, an unexpected improvement over the 5.9 percent of the previous two months.

The unemployment rate, because it has gone in both directions so far this year, "has shown no clear trend," said Kathleen Utgoff, commissioner of the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a separate report, the department also said 39,000 new jobs were created. Hiring increased in construction, in government, and the service sector, but those gains were largely offset by employment cuts in manufacturing and retail.

The service sector grew by 100,000 jobs in August; over the previous five months, it had grown by an average of 62,000 jobs a month. Jobs in health care and temporary employment firms helped fuel the growth.

Government employment rose 41,000, with the federal government adding 20,000 jobs, mostly in the Transportation Security Administration.

Construction employment rose 34,000 in August, reversing a loss of 30,000 jobs in July.

On the other side of the ledger, factory jobs fell sharply in August, by 68,000, after four months of losses that averaged just 18,000. Retail employment also dropped 55,000 last month. Most of the cuts were in department stores.

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