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ECONOMICS REPORT - Jobs and the U.S. Economy - 2004-06-11

Broadcast: June 11, 2004

This is Bob Doughty with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

The Labor Department says the United States economy created two-hundred-forty-eight-thousand jobs in May. The department says almost one million jobs have been added in the last three months.

Even so, the unemployment rate in May was the same as April: five-point-six percent. News reports said this was because, while there were more jobs, there were also more job seekers in the market.

The jobs report last Friday added to signs that the economy is improving. The Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Commerce Department says the economy has grown since the last three months of two-thousand-one. But, until September of last year, the number of people with jobs had been shrinking. That situation led to concerns that the United States was in a jobless recovery.

Now, President Bush says the economy is strong and getting stronger. His administration gives credit for the new growth to its personal tax cuts. The reasoning is that people who pay less in taxes put the savings into investments and goods.

But Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says the United States is in a "wage recession." Senator Kerry's campaign released a statement about the jobs report. The statement said "America is still in the worst job recovery since the Great Depression." It said those who do find a job are earning less, while having to pay more for health care, college and gasoline.

Before last September, about two-million-six-hundred-thousand more jobs had been lost than were created since Mister Bush took office. Recent job gains have cut that number by more than half. If the current rate continues, the deficit in jobs could disappear by the election in November. For more than seventy years, no American president has had more jobs lost than gained during his presidency.

Measures of public opinion show that not all Americans are sure yet about the economic recovery. The Consumer Sentiment Index by the University of Michigan was reported down four percent in May. Some economists say worries about inflation and the possibility of higher interest rates may be influencing how people feel.

The University of Michigan was supposed to release its early report for June on Friday. But it delayed the release because of the funeral of former President Ronald Reagan.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. This is Bob Doughty.