February 6, 2009

Unemployment rate jumps to 7.6 percent

The U.S. unemployment rate jumped 0.4 percentage points to 7.6 percent in January, as non-farm employment fell sharply, the U.S. Labor Department said.

The nation lost 1.77 million jobs in the past three months: 598,000 in January, 577,000 in December and 597,000 in November, showing an escalating erosion of the job market.

Since the recession began in December 2007, the country has lost 3.6 million jobs, the department said.

In January, job losses were large and widespread, the report said.

Manufacturing lost 207,000 jobs in the month, the largest monthly decline since October 1982. Retail lost 45,000 jobs in the month, transportation and warehousing an additional 44,000. Auto dealerships shed 14,000 positions in a traditionally slow month double-bounced by the recession.

Healthcare showed a rare bright spot, gaining 19,000 jobs. In 2008, the healthcare labor market gained an average of 30,000 jobs a month, the report said.

Jobs in private education rose by 33,000 in January.

The number of workers unemployed for more than 27 weeks was little changed in the month but has risen by 1.3 million from a year ago.

There are 11.6 million U.S. workers listed as unemployed, the government said.