US unemployment rate reaches 8.1%

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Friday, March 6, 2009

The official unemployment rate in the United States increased to 8.1% (seasonally adjusted), the highest level in over 25 years, after the Labor Department reported that 651,000 jobs were lost in February. The U-6 unemployment rate, an alternative measure also published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that includes other categories of unemployed and underemployed workers, was reported to be 16%.

The US economy has now shed 4.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Half of the job losses have come in the last four months, and the unemployment rate has jumped by 3.3% in the past year.

The Federal Reserve says that it doesn't expect the jobless rate to fall below seven percent until 2011.

The professional and business service sector lost 180,000 jobs last month, while manufacturing shed 168,000. The construction industry has lost 1.1 million jobs since January 2007 and 104,000 jobs last month. At the same time, the financial sector lost 44,000 jobs, bringing the total to 448,000 lost jobs since a peak in December 2007.

"The construction industry is in a near depression," said the General President of LIUNA, Terry O'Sullivan.

"We are staring into the abyss. The recession is intensifying and the economy is rapidly shrinking," said Steven Wood of Insight Economics.

US stock markets opened higher after the report.


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