Jobless rate hits 9.7 pct

September 4, 2009 That's the highest since 1983, but an improvement since earlier this year when more than half a million jobs were disappearing each month.

Even as the nation's unemployment rate stands at a 26 year high, there are some encouraging signs.

This week, Chrysler called nearly 900 employees back to work at its belvedere plant thanks to the success of the Cash for Clunkers program.

"Seems like there's a greater demand for the more fuel-efficient car, so hopefully we can keep second shift, and you know maybe a third shift come in and all that good stuff," said Lamarr Wooden, Chrysler worker.

But the harsh reality this Labor Day is that nearly 15 million Americans who want a job can't find one.

The badly battered construction, manufacturing, and finance industries once again added to their losses.

While the Obama administration's stimulus program has been under fire by for being too costly, on Friday Vice President Biden argued it has helped keep the economy from shedding even more jobs.

"The numbers reported today show 216,000 thousand people lost their jobs last month, much too high, but roughly two thirds of the job loss we saw on a monthly basis when we took office and the lowest that it's been in a year," said Biden.

Analysts say jobs always lag behind when the economy recovers from a recession.

John Challenger of Chicago-based Challenger, Gray and Christmas predicts the unemployment rate may not start to decline until next year.

"After the '91 recession it took 15 months for unemployment to start dropping after the economy recovered, it took 19 months in the aftermath of 2001 recession. So it seems likely that we're going to see high unemployment for some time to come maybe well into 2010," said Challenger.

Some analysts predict the unemployment rate could reach double digits by the end of the year.

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