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The unemployment rate keeps dropping, but Americans are still out of work




Job seekers wait in line to meet with a recruiter during the San Francisco Hire Event job fair. The number of unemployment claims last week was the lowest since March 2008.
Job seekers wait in line to meet with a recruiter during the San Francisco Hire Event job fair. The number of unemployment claims last week was the lowest since March 2008.
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Producer Steve Proffitt joins Madeleine Brand to discuss the declining unemployment rate. The Labor Department says the number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell again last week to its lowest number in four years.

While that's a good thing, there are some sobering numbers behind that headline. Almost 13 million Americans remain unemployed, and, most troubling, about five million of those people have been out of work for more than six months. And the overall improvement in employment is getting its boost almost entirely from the private sector. Governments at all levels have been cutting back, and that trend seems to be continuing.

According to the labor department, governments cut an average of 22,000 jobs every month last year. Another estimate shows almost 600,000 public sector jobs have been eliminated since 2008. And those numbers don't include teachers. The California Teachers Association says California has lost 40,000 teaching jobs in the past four years.

Guest:

Steve Proffitt, producer at KPCC.