June Jobless Rate Falls as Many Quit Looking

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 9.5% in June but only because 652,000 Americans quit looking for work, as conflicting economic signals cause investors and consumers to wonder whether the nation is continuing to recover or sliding back toward recession.

Unemployment fell from 9.7% in May even though the nation lost 125,000 jobs in June, the Labor Department reported today.

Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist with economic, business and political forecasting consultancy IHS Global Insight, said the jobless rate depends on how many people are looking for work. So many Americans have been unemployed for so long that their benefits are expiring, which perversely contributed to June's statistical dip.

"The rate declined, but for all the wrong reasons," Gault told the San Francisco Chronicle.

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