MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World. It's Labor Day though it's not much of a holiday for the nearly 15 million Americans out of work. New figures put the jobless rate at 9.7%. Today President Obama put a positive spin on the numbers.
BARACK OBAMA: For second straight month we lost fewer jobs than the month before and it was the fewest jobs that we had lost in a year. So make no mistake we're moving in the right direction.
WERMAN: We'll hear more on the US labor picture in a moment but first we check in on three other countries struggling with growing unemployment. We start with The World's Laura Lynch in London.
LAURA LYNCH: Fall is in the air. The leaves are just starting to turn. But that's not stopping analysts and economists from talking about green shoots. It's a fixation for those trying to figure out whether Britain's bruised economy is on the mend. Housing market? Maybe a bit of growth ï¿½ a bit of green sprouting through the dry ground of recession. But on this Labor Day when it comes to jobs the best description is ï¿½ well is a brown shoot. Two million, two hundred and fifty thousand people are out of work in the UK. That's 7.8% up from 5.5% last September. And most experts believe the worst is yet to come predicting that some time in the next several months unemployment will break through the $3 million mark. There haven't been that many people out of work since 1993. The slightest bit of good news in all of this is that the growth of the rate of unemployment is slowing. The UK, so dependent on the financial sector for much of the economic good times it enjoyed for so many years, is now paying the price. It's missing out on the start of the recovery that's taking shape in France and Germany. Now the focus is on Britain's young job seekers. Under 25s are making up half of those who are joining the ranks of the jobless. Analysts fear it will be years before many of them are able to find steady, stable work in an economy that will struggle to fully recover. For The World I'm Laura Lynch in London.
GERRY HADDEN: I'm Gerry Hadden in Barcelona. Here in Spain the unemployment rate has reached a record 18.5%. That's the highest in Western Europe. One result ï¿½ Spain's daytime TV talk shows are enjoying larger audiences and they're playing to their public parading out the jobless.
TAMARA: [SPEAKING SPANISH]
HADDEN: This 26-year-old woman named Tamara lost her job as a sales woman a year ago. She says you begin to realize when you've been unemployed the entire year that the situation is hopeless. Sending out resume after resume, using personal connections, the internet ï¿½ nothing works. Either you adopt an accepting attitude, she says, leaving things in the hands of God or you go crazy. Spain's unemployment rate usually goes down in the summer during peak tourist season but August saw an increase of more than 80,000 Spaniards applying for unemployment. As the economy sputters the government has raised unemployment benefits and extended them. But that's fueling a growing deficit. Spain has two problems that single it out from the rest of Europe. First its miraculous economic growth over the past decade depended on a building boom that collapsed. So far no other sector has been able to absorb the idled construction workers. Also consumer spending remains low because people borrowed too much on credit during the brick-and-mortar hay days. Now Spaniards are struggling just to pay back what they owe. Today the Spanish government had more bad news to share. Unemployment in the coming months could reach 20%. Economists say neighboring France and Germany should see their unemployment numbers starting to ease within six months as their manufacturing sectors revive. In Spain they're talking years.
AARON SCHACHTER: I'm Aaron Schachter in Beirut. Lebanon is often seen as having weathered the economic storm. Its gross domestic product is expected to grow by up to 4% and the crucial banking and tourism industries are booming. But unemployment could be Lebanon's dirty little secret. The rate is officially around 10%. Economists though estimate the real figure as double that in larger part due to recent wars and political instability. Lebanese generally take the country's volatility in stride but investors do not. Local job creation has been a problem so Lebanese grads have generally packed off to the Gulf. But with hotspots like Dubai hit hard by the economic downturn unemployed professionals are coming home. Dominic Dudley is deputy editor of the Middle East Economic Digest. He says there's an irony to the current economic woes in the Middle East. Itï¿½s made relative titans out of countries that were once thought of banana republics.
DOMINIC DUDLEY: The best economies are probably the ones which are least integrated into the global economy. So places like Syria and Algeria and Libya are probably doing the best.
SCHACHTER: Some countries continue to do well. Especially the oil and gas rich states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both expect double digit GDP growth this year. For The World I'm Aaron Schachter in Beirut.