Friday: Unemployment at 9.5%, Payrolls Drop; U.S. Aid Workers Killed

BY Tom LeGro  July 2, 2010 at 9:20 AM EDT

The unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent from 9.7 percent, its lowest level in almost a year, the Labor Department said Friday. Payrolls declined by 125,000 in June, and private sector businesses added a net total of 83,000 workers, an improvement from May but below March and April totals. Most of the job losses came from the end of 225,000 temporary census jobs.

The number of long-term unemployed in June is 6.8 million, unchanged from May.

The New York Times’ David Leonhardt writes that the economic recovery is “losing steam”:

“I want to reiterate this point: the unemployment rate fell last month even though actual unemployment did not fall. Only official unemployment — the share of people actively looking for work — fell….To the extent that the report offered any silver linings, they included a drop in the number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time work (to 8.6 million, from 8.8 million).”

Bob Willis, writing for Bloomberg:

“The pace of hiring signals it will take years for the world’s largest economy to recover the more than 8 million jobs lost during the recession that began in December 2007. The turmoil in financial markets brought on by the European debt crisis raises the risk that employment will slow, depriving American households of the income needed to maintain spending.”

The Washington Post talks to the executive director of the Obama administration’s Middle Class Task Force about the economic recovery:

“Is the economic recovery really reaching the American people?” said Bernstein, Vice President Biden’s top economic adviser. “And the answer to that is: Not yet.”

We’ll have more on the jobs numbers later today and on Friday’s program.

Day 74 of the Oil Spill Disaster

Based on the upper end of a range of government estimates, the BP oil spill passed the 140-million-gallon mark on Thursday. The disaster is now the largest oil spill ever in the Gulf of Mexico, surpassing the 1979-1980 Ixtoc I spill.

The Associated Press reports that volunteers and foreign countries have offered to help oil cleanup efforts, but are being either ignored or turned away:

“[T]here have been 107 offers of help from 44 nations, ranging from technical advice to skimmer boats and booms. But many of those offers are weeks old, and only a small number have been accepted, with the vast majority still under review, according to a list kept by the State Department….And in recent days and weeks, for reasons BP has never explained, many fishing boats hired for the cleanup have done a lot of waiting around.”

On Thursday, BP’s chief of Gulf Coast restoration Bob Dudley told the NewsHour that the company is exploring back-up plans in case relief wells fail and asserted that BP was committed to the Gulf for the “long-term.”

With Hurricane Alex weakening and passing over the Gulf, BP and coastal states hope to get back to oil recovery and cleanup Friday.

U.S. Aid Workers in Afghanistan Killed

Six suicide bombers stormed a USAID compound in northern Afghanistan before dawn Friday, killing at least four people and wounding several others, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on a building used by Development Alternatives Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based global consulting company on contract with the United States Agency for International Aid. None of the dead were Americans, according to the New York Times.

Memorial Service for Sen. Byrd

Robert Byrd, longtime U.S. senator from West Virginia, will be memorialized Friday. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are scheduled to attend an hour-long service for the late senator Friday morning.

A funeral service is scheduled for Tuesday at Memorial Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia, where Byrd will be buried next to his wife Erma, who died in 2006.

You can watch Friday’s service live at C-SPAN.org.