March 6, 2009

Unemployment jumps to 8.1 percent

The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent in February, exceeding economists' predictions, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday.

Economist predicted the unemployment rate would reach 7.9 percent from the previous 7.6 percent. But, the nation's employment picture continued to fall sharply, the Labor Department said, with 651,000 jobs lost in the month.

In the past four months, the nation's payroll employment has shed 2.6 million jobs. In February the losses continued to be widespread across all major industry sectors, the department said.

Those unemployed more than 27 weeks increased by 270,000 to 2.9 million in the month.

In addition, the number of people listed as marginally attached to the labor force is 466,000 higher than it was a year ago at 2.1 million. That number tracks those who haven't searched for work in the past four weeks. Included in this number, which isn't reflected in the unemployment rate, is 731,000 workers who have given up looking for work.

In the 14 months into the recession that began December 2007, the Labor Department said about 4.4 million jobs have been lost, an average of 314,285 a month.