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With a report that experts call “decent…, but not in any way robust,” the Labor Department revealed May unemployment numbers this morning — 175,000 jobs added, the same as last year, but a small increase in the unemployment rate from 7.5 percent to 7.6 percent. The New York Times says it would take five years for the country to get back to full unemployment at this rate.

Other economic factors — the impact of the sequester and the erosion of the “social safety net,” layoffs in the government, and stagnant average hourly earnings — had led to much worse predictions for this report. And the increase in the unemployment rate, the Times says, is likely caused by more people joining in the search for a job. Optimism about the economy has increased and it’s possible that many are seeing some light at the end of the unemployment tunnel.

“A recovering housing market, improved household finances and a Federal Reserve initiative to hold down interest rates largely have offset austerity in Washington,” says USA Today.

Still, a former deputy assistant labor secretary, Patrick O’Keefe tells USA Today, that employers aren’t ready to go on a hiring spree.  “They’re hiring when they have orders and business sufficient to justify it,” he said. The article notes that the underemployment rate has gone to 13.8 percent from 13.9 percent.

African Americans, who have already been coping with an unemployment rate that’s higher than the general population, also saw an increase in the unemployment rate, from 13.2 percent to 13.5 percent. The same economic and job market forces are taking a toll on black Americans. Also, as we’ve stressed on this site a number of times, the impact of having a weak network is also a factor.  Research from Rutgers Business School professor Nancy DiTomaso, reported on NPR, find that 70 percent of the jobs held by the hundreds of white Americans surveyed were due to a tip off from a  friend.

“DiTomaso says that one of the consequences of people finding a job this way is that they do not think of themselves as participating or contributing to the reproduction of racial inequality. Many of those whom she interviewed, despite receiving significant help in their careers, felt they’d gotten where they were from hard work alone,” the article continues.

The unemployment rate for Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 is at 16.1 percent, according to Generation Opportunity. For African Americans in that age group, the figure is a shocking 21 percent, higher than Hispanics in this age group (11.7 percent) and women (10.6 percent).

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