Unemployment hits 25 year high - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Unemployment hits 25 year high

SPOKANE, Wash. - America's jobless rate is at it's highest in 25 years, but some see hope in the latest numbers.

The latest report shows 9.4 percent of Americans are now out of work and 345,000 lost jobs last month.

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As bad as that sounds, it's a lot less than expected.

Job loss numbers haven't been that small since September.

"While this is not good news, this is what we would hope to see on the way to good news," said Keith Hall of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Construction workers are hopeful. For every two who lost jobs earlier this year, only one got laid off in May.

The Labor Secretary says a lot of them will move to new "clean energy" jobs.

"We need to have an adequate workforce that's trained and ready for these jobs," said Secretary Hilda Solis.

Still, the Obama administration admits fewer layoffs is no reason to celebrate.

"A lower job rate loss is not our goal," said Vice President Joe Biden. "'Less bad' is not how we're going to measure success."

Success, he says, is adding jobs and saving them.

That may be the case with one General Motors brand.

Penske Motors announced Friday it will buy Saturn from bankrupt G.M.

Meanwhile, Walmart has promised to hire 20,000 people by the end of the year.

Good news, but analysts say that's just a drop in the bucket.

"We need an additional 200,000 jobs just to keep unemployment rates level and for the Fed to start thinking about raising interest rates. It's not going to happen any time soon," noted William Gross, co-Chief Investment Officer at PIMCO.

Stimulus money has funded 3,600 construction projects, but Republicans argue it's not working fast enough:

On Monday President Obama will announce he'll speed up the stimulus this summer.

A lot of that money is still in Washington.

So far the government has only spent or promised to spend about one-fifth of what Congress approved.
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