Unemployment Rate Jumps to 9.7%, Highest Since June 1983

Mass layoffs are slowing but employers are still reluctant to make new hires.

ByABC News
September 3, 2009, 5:21 PM

Sept. 4, 2009— -- American workers continued to lose jobs in August but the number of layoffs were significantly lower than in prior months, a sign that the while the economy is not yet growing, it is nearing a recovery.

Last month, another 216,000 jobs were shed by the nation's employers. The nation's unemployment rate also jumped from 9.4 percent to 9.7 percent, higher than analysts were expecting. Since the start of the recession, 6.9 million American jobs have been lost. But it now looks like most of the carnage is over.

Don't tell that to 24-year-old John Fischer, who had to move back in with his family in St. Louis last year after losing his job as a ticket sales representative for the Houston Dynamo, a major league soccer team.

He's looking for a job in communications, public relations, marketing or anything related and has gone to seminars, networking events, resume writing clinics and job fairs. He's even volunteered as a soccer coach and a firefighter.

"My biggest challenge is that John Fischer is just a name on a piece of paper to a lot of people," he said. "I've done basically everything that I can do to try and get in front of the people who have the power to hire me."

Fischer keeps a journal detailing every application mailed, phone call made and e-mail sent. For now, it's just a diary of disappointment.

"It's very frustrating and right when I think something is going to fall in place, something happens," he said. "I had a solid, solid interview that I thought for sure I had it nailed. Then sure enough, three days later I get an e-mail saying the position had been filled."

"It's just getting to the point where I really don't know what to say anymore," Fischer added. "I'm a smart person. I don't know what is going on anymore with our economy, where our country is heading. It's pretty scary. I want to hear some answers. I want to hear some solutions."