- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2008

The economy lost another 62,000 jobs last month as the housing crisis and record high energy prices continued to weigh on employers and make them cautious about hiring, the Labor Department reported this morning.

The economy has lost 438,000 jobs in all since the job market peaked in December. The unemployment rate was steady last month at 5.5 percent after staging a breathtaking half-point jump in May.

The June job losses, as in previous months, were concentrated in manufacturing, construction, retail and temporary employment services. Many of the losses are related to the deep slumps in housing, credit and autos, but the weakness has spread to other sectors as well.

The bright spots in the job market continue to be health care, education, mining, restaurants and government work, according to the Labor report.

Health care jobs have grown by a robust 348,000 in the last year, while government jobs mostly in education and law enforcement have risen by 257,000.

Wage gains have slowed on average, growing by 3.4 percent in the last year — not enough to keep up with an inflation rate running over 4 percent, driven by escalating oil prices.

The employment report is closely watched by analysts looking for signs that the economy is in recession. The substantial decline in jobs and inflation-adjusted incomes since December suggests that overall economic activity also may have peaked six months ago.

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