U.S. employers cut 467,000 jobs in June, far more than expected, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent, the government said on Thursday in a report that showed a labor market continuing to struggle with a deep recession.


A man looks at a job board at a job fair in Toronto, April 1, 2009. (REUTERS / Mark Blinch)

The June job losses were more than 100,000 greater than the 363,000 consensus of Wall Street economists polled by Reuters and broke a four-month trend of moderation in job losses.

However, the Labor Department also said new weekly claims for jobless benefits fell in the latest week, largely in line with forecasts.

The Labor Department data showed that in April and May, 8,000 fewer jobs were lost than previously reported. The May job losses were revised downward to 322,000, while the April losses were revised upward to 519,000.

The data signaled to markets that a recovery may not be right around the corner, and sent prices for safe-haven U.S. Treasury debt higher. Stock index futures weakened, while the dollar erased gains versus the yen.

It looks like the economy was still losing substantial momentum as the second quarter came to a close. This report is weak across the board, said William Sullivan, chief economist at the JVB Financial Group in Boca Raton, Florida. The only saving grace is that the decline in payrolls may not be as large as we saw at the start of the year.

Job losses peaked in January at 741,000 and have gradually fallen each month since then, though the losses in June were greater than in May.

The jobless rate of 9.5 percent compared with 9.4 percent in May and was the highest since a matching unemployment rate in August 1983. Analysts had expected the rate to rise to 9.6 percent.

While job losses in June were spread across all sectors, the figures showed the steepest declines in services, which fell 244,000 after a 107,000 drop in May. Professional and business services fell 118,000, while government employment fell 52,000. Manufacturing was one of the few sectors to show a smaller drop in June, falling 136,000 after a 156,000 fall in May.

In a separate report, initial claims for state unemployment insurance fell to 614,000 in the week ended June 27 from an upwardly revised 630,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.

Economists had expected claims to fall to 615,000 from an initially reported 627,000. Continuing claims for the week ended June 20 fell for only the third week this year, to 6.702 million from an upwardly revised 6.755 million the prior week.