The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released unemployment numbers today that show just a slight improvement in the job market: the nation’s unemployment rate fell 0.2% to 9.5% in June.  Though thirty-nine states have seen steady improvement in the numbers, the economic reality is still not bright for most of the country.  Twenty-four states actually have higher unemployment rates now than they did a year ago and twenty-seven states posted a decline in payroll employment.  One state newspaper noted that although the state’s jobless rate has fallen, the labor market has correspondingly shrunk. 

The report rolled out this morning as Carte Goodwin (D-WV) prepares to swear in this afternoon to replace the late Senator Robert Byrd.  He joins Senate Democrats as the 60th vote to seal the deal extending benefits to 2.5 million long-term unemployed Americans.  This extension has Senate Republicans gawking at the possibility of adding $33 billion to the federal deficit without off-setting the cost elsewhere in federal spending.    As Democrats and even some Republicans on Capitol Hill rally behind the effort to extend the benefits program through November, polls show the federal debt is a severe economic problem that voters of all stripes will not ignore in November.  We’ve still got a long way to go to repair our economy and feel-good spending on unemployment benefits is not the kind of fix that we so badly need.