WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 9.6 percent and the economy lost 54,000 jobs in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
The figures were in line with economists' expectations but the job-loss figure marked the third consecutive month the economy shed jobs. The United States lost a total of 229,000 jobs in June and July, when the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent, after adjustments of previously announced data.
The federal government, still losing census-related jobs, shed 121,000 jobs but the private sector gained 67,000 positions in August. That last figure is seen as a positive.
The bureau said the number of unemployed people was about unchanged at 14.9 million. The number of people who have been without work for more than 26 weeks fell by 323,000 to 6.2 million. However, the number of "discouraged workers" -- those who have stopped looking for work because they don't believe there are jobs available -- totaled 1.1 million, a 352,000 increase over a year ago.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the healthcare sector gained 28,000 jobs in August, a gain nearly offset by a drop of 27,000 manufacturing positions. Construction employment was up 19,000 during the month.
Data indicate federal government employment dropped by 121,000, with 114,000 of those being temporary positions for the 2010 U.S. Census.