Employment: Superlatives & Paradoxes

Marking something of an economic milestone, the Labor Department last week reported that in June the U.S. work force topped the May level by 2.7 million, reached 80 million for the first time in history. And with an increase of 1.3 million jobs, there were more Americans than ever before—77.3 million—picking up paychecks.

There was, however, a disturbing paradox behind those rosy superlatives. If the nation's employment increased, its unemployment jumped even more dramatically. Though June school closings traditionally loose hordes of eager job-hunting students on the labor market, this June's joblessness rose a full 200,000 more than anyone had...

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