The Labor Department's monthly employment report released Friday shows the U.S. economy shed more jobs than it created last month - a net loss of 125,000 jobs - the first monthly job loss of the year. Despite the net decline, the nation's unemployment rate inched lower in June, falling 0.2 point to 9.5 percent.
The private sector added more than 80,000 workers to their payrolls last month, better than the previous month, but not enough to offset the loss of more than 200,000 temporary census jobs.
At a joint economic hearing Friday, Commissioner Keith Hall with the Bureau of Labor Statistics tried to put the numbers into perspective.
"Although the private sector job growth was not strong, it was job growth, and it has been growing now for six straight months," said Keith Hall. "So I think in context, that's a positive sign."
Still, the net loss of 125,000 jobs shows the uneven nature of the U.S. recovery.
John Silvia is the senior economist at Wells Fargo Bank:
"Private payroll gains continue to be modest and I would say it does raise flags for those super optimists who were looking for a V-shaped recovery and thinking that we are going to go back to normal very quickly in the US. economy," said John Silvia.
The slow pace of recovery is bad news for more than a million Americans who will stop receiving unemployment benefits after Congress adjourned for the holiday weekend without extending federal aid.
Only two Republicans Senators sided with Democrats to extend the benefits but Texas Republican Kevin Brady blamed Democrats for the lapse.
"They hold a supermajority in the House, the Senate, and they hold the White House. And I guess other than blaming George Bush," said Kevin Brady. "I think they have to look in the mirror for those who will not be getting help this month."
Democrats will try to pass the measure again after a replacement is named for West Virginia Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, who passed away June 28 after serving more than 50 years in the Senate.
Before leaving to attend the late Senator's funeral, President Barack Obama announced new stimulus projects to bring broadband Internet access to rural communities.
"In the short term, we expect these projects to create about 5,000 construction and installation jobs around the country," said President Obama. "And once we emerge from the immediate crisis, the long-term economic gains to communities that have been left behind in the digital age will be immeasurable."
Despite the weak report, the nation's unemployment rate fell 0.2 a point to 9.5 percent as thousands of Americans gave up looking for work.
For all nearly 15 million Americans are now unemployed. Counting those who have stopped looking for work and part timers who prefer full time hours, the nation's under-employment rate now estimates at 16.5 percent.