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Census jobs pull down unemployment rate

WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent fell in May on the hiring of 411,000 temporary census workers, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday.

The private sector added 41,000 jobs, less than the manufacturing sector alone added a month ago.

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The unemployment rate dropped from 9.9 percent, but the bulk of gains were temporary jobs, which will be a disappointment to investors looking for solid payroll gains to measure an economic upswing.

The number of unemployed in May was little-changed at 15 million. An additional 6.8 million are listed as long-term unemployed, which presumes they have given up looking for work to take care of children or the elderly, or to return to school. Many of those, however, are simply unemployed.

A month ago, the unemployment rate climbed, despite the addition of 290,000 jobs, due to a large number of long-term unemployed workers deciding to look for work again. In May, the department said, the number of "re-entrants" to the workforce slipped backwards by 286,000.

In May, manufacturing, temporary help, healthcare and mining added jobs, while construction continued a decline that began in February 2007.

The average workweek rose marginally, up 0.1 hour to 34.2 hours. Average hourly earnings rose by 7 cents to $22.57 per hour.

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