Woe is still the economy, but several numbers are indicating that the recession might, just might, be easing up. The pace of U.S. job losses has gradually slowed, and the unemployment rate actually dropped in July for the first time in over a year.


The pace of U.S. job losses slowed more than forecast last month and the unemployment rate dropped for the first time since April 2008, the clearest signs yet that the worst recession since the Great Depression is easing.

Payrolls fell by 247,000, after a 443,000 loss in June, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The jobless rate dropped to 9.4 percent from 9.5 percent.

Stock-index futures jumped and Treasuries dropped after the report stoked optimism for a recovery in the second half. While the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus efforts are projected to have a gathering impact on the economy, any rebound in hiring may be delayed as companies from Boeing Co. to Verizon Communications Inc. continue to cut costs.

“The American consumer is by no means out of the woods, but we are moving in the right direction,” said Richard DeKaser, chief economist at Woodley Park Research in Washington, the only economist to correctly forecast the payroll and unemployment numbers. “We will see moderate growth in the second half and more of a pickup in 2010.”

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