Friday, February 6, 2009

Recession Job Losses Surpass Three Million

WASHINGTON -- U.S. employment plunged in January by a three-decade high, a government report showed, bringing total job losses since the recession started in December 2007 to 3.6 million.

Half of those losses occurred in the last three months alone, and the stepped-up pace of layoffs in recent months suggests no end in sight to the economic downturn.

The report, which included another sharp rise in the unemployment rate to a 16-year high, upped the heat on U.S. lawmakers to enact a large fiscal stimulus package.

Nonfarm payrolls, which are calculated by a survey of establishments, tumbled 598,000 in January, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday, the most since December 1974 and well above the 525,000 drop Wall Street economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey expected. December was revised to show an even steeper decline of 577,000.

The U.S. "is contracting greatly," said Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and the jobs data "reinforce the need for bold fiscal action."

The government included revisions for all of 2008, which showed the U.S. lost about 3 million jobs last year, roughly 400,000 more than first thought. In the 12 months through January, the economy shed more jobs over that timeframe since the government started compiling those figures in 1939.

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