The U.S. Department of Labor released the latest unemployment figures, revealing that the unemployment rate rose to 9.7% in August, up from 9.4% in July, "The rate had been little changed in June and July, after increasing 0.4 or 0.5 percentage point in each month from December 2008 through May. Since the recession began in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 7.4 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 4.8 percentage points." The possible good news: Employers cut 216,000 jobs last month, which is less than expected and the least since August 2008 (!). An economist told Bloomberg News, "What we’re learning is that the pace of job declines is subsiding. The economy is no longer detonating, but we are still losing jobs, and the unemployment rate is going up. It’s going to be a very tough environment for the consumer." Related: NY State, NYC unemployment figures for July.