April 3, 2009

U.S. unemployment rises to 8.5 percent

The U.S. unemployment rate hit 8.5 percent in March, a 0.4 percentage point rise on the loss of 663,000 jobs in a month, the U.S Labor Department said.

Since the recession set in in December 2007, the nation has lost 5.1 million jobs, the report said.

As of last month, 13.2 million U.S. citizens were listed as unemployed, a gain of 5.3 million over the past 12 months.

Long-term unemployment, counting those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, rose to 3.2 million over the month, adding 1.9 million since December 2007.

Among adult men, 8.8 percent are unemployed. Among adult women, 7 percent are unemployed. For blacks, the jobless rate reached 13.3 percent in March. For Hispanics, the unemployment rate is 11.4 percent.

The job losses continue to be widespread. The month included 161,000 lost manufacturing jobs and 126,000 construction jobs, the department said. Mining and logging employment shed 18,000 positions in the month. Professional and business service positions declined by 133,000. The hospitality and leisure sector saw 40,000 jobs eliminated.

Earnings hardly offset the impact. Hourly wages for private, non-farm jobs rose by 3 cents an hour in the month, following a 4 cent per house increase in February.