Employers added only 54,000 jobs in May, according just-released numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and unemployment rose to 9.1 percent. The jobs numbers are the worst in eight months and contrasted with an average rate of 220,000 new jobs over the past few months.
Local governments, which have been especially hard hit by the economic downtown, continued to shed jobs, and private employers slowed their hiring from the pace of spring. High gas prices, a crippled housing market, natural disasters (both in the United States and Japan) and hits to manufacturing were all cited for the weak hiring.
The numbers demonstrate the slow pace of recovery from a financial crisis and recession, and there may be little imminent relief, according to the Wall Street Journal:
After all the money spent fighting the financial crisis, the government has few tools left to stimulate the economy. The Federal Reserve, which sees unemployment around 7.8% at the end of 2012, is expected to keep interest rates close to zero this year to lift the economy. But the central bank is unlikely to expand its balance sheet further as concerns of stoking inflation outweigh the potential benefits for stocks.
Pakistani Troops Fight Militants Near Afghan Border
Pakistan’s military is battling an influx of insurgents near the Afghan border after several days of fighting left an estimated 63 dead, including 25 soldiers, 35 militants and several civilians. An estimated 400 militants crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, targeting military assets and schools in villages in the Upper Dir region.
Pakistan’s government called for “stern action by the Afghan army, U.S. and NATO/ISAF forces in the area against militants and their hideouts in Afghanistan and against organizational support for the militants.” Afghanistan and Pakistan share a 1,600-mile border, much of it remote terrain and difficult to seal.
Mass Funeral Held in Yemen for Victims of Latest Violence
Amid rising tensions between the government, tribal leaders and protesters in Yemen, ten of thousands gathered Friday in Sanaa for a mass funeral to commemorate 50 people killed in the latest round of fighting. Both the capital and Taiz in the south have been targets of a stepped-up government crackdown. As fears of civil war grow, opponents are calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for more than three decades, to step down.
Reports Friday also said that shells might have hit Saleh’s compound and that he may be slightly wounded, according to an official quoted by the Associated Press.
16 Reported Dead in Iraq Mosque Attack
Iraqi officials said at least 16 people were killed and dozens wounded in an attack on a mosque in Tikrit, which is 80 miles from Baghdad, including members of the police force and a member of the provincial council. The bomb struck worshippers at a Sunni mosque who were attending Friday prayers. No group has yet claimed responsibility. It is also not clear if the explosion was the work of a suicide bomber or if there was a bomb planted in the building itself.
The attack came one day after another bomb killed six people in Ramadi.
North Korea Vows ‘Retaliatory Military Actions’ Against South Korea
North Korea has stepped up its rhetoric in response to reports that members of the South Korean military used photos of Kim Jong Il and his son, Kim Jong Un, for target practice. North Korea said South Korean troops had “staged such rowdyism as setting up a target and daring fire at it, a thrice-cursed criminal act.”
North Korea also rejected recent discussion of talks, attacking South Korean President Lee Myung bak, whom they have called “human scum.” President Lee has taken a tougher approach to dealing with North Korea than recent presidents, who have been more leery of confronting the regime.
Tensions have been especially high on the Korean Peninsula following the shelling of Yeonpyeong island in November, an attack that angered South Koreans and escalated military preparations.