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Jobless Rate Jumps for Older Workers

Hiring stalls for all age groups as employers wait out uncertain times

In the worst jobs report in eight months, the government said Friday that hiring came to a near standstill in June, with American workplaces adding a scant 18,000 positions. The unemployment rate inched up to 9.2 percent.

See also: You've lost your job. What's next?

Older workers took a disproportionate hit: The unemployment rate for men 55-plus leaped to 7.9 percent last month from 7 percent in May. The rate for older women rose to 6.3 percent from 6 percent.

Cutbacks in state and local governments continued to take a toll on payrolls — 39,000 workers were laid off in June. Private employers meanwhile added a meager 57,000 jobs, for the net gain of 18,000. But that was not nearly enough to make a dent in unemployment, which was 9.1 percent in May.

The jobs situation in May was also weaker than initially reported. The government revised its initial figure of a 54,000 gain down to 25,000.

Friday's report is "really shocking," says economist Sophia Kopeckyj of the economic research firm Moody's Analytics.

"It could be there are concerns about the federal government debt issues," she says. "Maybe employers are just waiting it out. We also know the impact of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami was much greater than we initially thought it would be on manufacturing and on gross domestic product."

Financial markets reacted swiftly to the report, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping about 1 percent.

About 14.1 million people were out of work in June. Of those, 6.3 million (44 percent) had been jobless for six months or more, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Next: Average length of unemployment for 55+ shortens. >>

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