The announcement of a net 431,000 new jobs being created during May certainly gives off the strong impression of a rapidly improving job market. Unfortunately, 411,000 of those jobs came via temporary workers tasked with performing work for the 2010 decennial Census, with the remaining 20,000 jobs added on net last month coming in the manufacturing, business services and healthcare sectors. These gains did more than offset the losses in construction, retail and financial services, but job growth has yet to return to reach levels necessary to substantially reduce the unemployment rate. Indeed, last month’s modest downward tick in the jobless rate can be attributed to a drop in the labor force and such a decline is not entirely surprising given the yawning length of unemployment spells many have endured. During May, the median duration of unemployment climbed to 23 weeks and 46 percent of those unable to find a job have remained as such for at least 26 weeks (both are record highs).

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