Nation’s Jobless Rate, Now in Double-Digits, Reaches 26-Year High
Nearly 16 million people can't find jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. Economists say the jobless rate could climb as high as 10.5 percent next year because employers remain reluctant to hire.
The loss of jobs last month exceeded economists' estimates. It's the 22nd straight month the U.S. economy has shed jobs, the longest on records dating back 70 years.
Counting those who have settled for part-time jobs or stopped looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 17.5 percent, the highest on records dating from 1994, the Associated Press reported.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, said families across the nation “are devastated by the reality of a 26-year high unemployment rate.” It's hard to find a friend or a neighbor who hasn’t been touched by it, he added.
Pence accused Democrats of turning a “deaf ear” to the concerns of the American people:
“The American people want to know why Congress is forcing through the Pelosi plan for a government takeover of health care instead of a plan that will help create jobs. Concerned citizens don’t understand why their elected officials can’t work together to create jobs and bring relief to families hurting in the city and on the farm.
“It is time Democrat leaders abandon their endless pursuit of government-run health care and begin working on bipartisan solutions that will put the American people back to work,” Pence said.
On Friday, President Barack Obama was signing a bill providing another 14 weeks of benefits to all out-of-work people who have exhausted their benefits or will do so by the end of the year.
Those in states where the jobless rate is 8.5 percent or above will get an additional six weeks of jobless benefits.
Unemployment checks generally are for about $300 a week.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)