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US chops 131,000 jobs in July

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The US Census giveth, and the winding down of the census taketh away.

If there is one lucky thing for President Obama, it is that the census occurred during an economic meltdown, allowing the US government to pump up jobs and mask some of the downturn in unemployment this year. But now the census and the $787bn Obama economic stimulus that preceded it in early 2009 are winding down, and the economy has to stand on its own two feet.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a unit of the Department of Labor, put out its monthly jobs report this morning, this one calculating the unemployment rate as July ended. According to the report, which you can see here, the US economy shed 131,000 jobs in July. And you can blame federal, state, and local governments. The US government shed 143,000 workers in July, mostly as census workers were tossed unceremoniously back into the stagnant labor pool; state and local governments cut another 59,000 workers.

On a brighter note, the private sector in the United States added 71,000 jobs in July, which is something of an indication that the "real" economy is getting a bit better. So far this year, the private sector has added 630,000 jobs. The manufacturing sector (which has plenty of major and minor IT players) added 36,000 jobs in July and 183,000 workers have been added to the payrolls among manufacturers since December 2009.

All told, there are 14.6 million people in the US who are unemployed (meaning they are looking for work and can't find it), and the unemployment rate is unchanged from the 9.5 per cent rate set in June.

In the quarter, computer and electronic products manufacturers added 4,000 jobs in July to a pool of just over 1.1 million workers. Within this group, computer and peripheral equipment makers added 1,700 workers, to 160,300, while communications equipment makers shed 5,000 jobs, to 121,700. Semiconductor and electronic components makers added 1,500 workers, to 368,600.

The BLS lumps movies, media, and publishing as well as telecom, data processing, and hosting services into a hairball it calls the information sector. Within this, telecommunications companies continued to cut people from the payrolls, slashing 6,700 workers in July, to a pool of 919,000. Data processing, hosting, and related services, another IT portion of the US economy, lost 700 jobs, to 245,400.

In the broader professional and business services sector, companies engaged in computer systems design and related services had 1.45 million employees as July ended, up an impressive 14,200 people. (Maybe we'll get better PCs and servers now? Yeah, right.)

Management and technical consulting services firms added 7,700 workers, to just 400 shy of one million workers. ®

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