US unemployment hits new high

Jobless figures hit their highest level in almost five years as turmoil continues.

    Both US election candidates used the figures
    to attack each other's policies [AFP]

    The White House said the rise was "unwelcome" but said it was not considering a second economic stimulus package similar to one enacted by George Bush, the US president, in February.

    Economic turmoil

    So far this year, job losses in the US amount to 605,000, as the ongoing housing crisis, rising food and oil prices and credit crunch continue to cause economic turmoil.

    In focus

    In-depth coverage of the US presidential election
    In addition, labour officials revised July's job losses up to 60,000 and June's up to 100,000 from previous figures of 51,000 for each month.

    The news caused US stock markets to slump in opening trading, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling almost 100 points before recovering later on Friday.

    It also comes as the US prepares for presidential elections in November in which the economy is a central concern for voters.

    Election period

    Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, has called for a second stimulus package, however John McCain, his Republican rival, has said he favours other methods.

    Both candidates were swift to use the jobs report to attack each other's economic policies.

    Obama said in a statement the figures were "a reminder of what’s at stake in this election" and argued McCain had showed he was "intent on continuing the economic policies that just this year have caused the American economy to lose 605,000 jobs".

    McCain said Obama planned to raise taxes, adding: "the American people cannot afford a Barack Obama presidency."

    The US Federal Reserve is expected to leave interest rates steady at two percent at its next meeting on September 16 and probably through the rest of this year as concerns over inflation continue.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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