US Labor Department reveals worse than expected jobless figures

| March 6, 2009
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Official figures from the US Labor Department revealed today that 651,000 jobs were lost in February in the US, taking the jobless rate 8.1% – the highest level since December 1983.

Meanwhile, the organisation adjusted its January figures upwards to 655,000, while December’s losses were revised to 681,000 – the biggest single monthly decline since October 1949.

A total of 12.5 million people are now unemployed in the US and since the onset of the slowdown, the economy has lost 4.4 million jobs – with over half of jobs eliminated in the last four months alone.

Major job losses announced in February came from well-known companies including Goodyear, Estee Lauder, Macy’s and General Motors.

Jobs were lost in most sectors, with only Government, education and health services bucking the trend by hiring people.

President Barack Obama described the figures as “astounding”. Mr Obama recently enacted a $787 billion (£561 billion) stimulus package designed to save or create 4 million jobs.

Meanwhile, the figures also showed that during the month, the number of people working forced into part-time work increased by 787,000 to 8.6 million – this was a result of hours being cut back as companies slash costs.

Earlier this week, Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, called for aggressive action to stimulate the US economy.

Mr Bernanke said progress has been made on the financial side since last autumn but more bold action needs to be taken.

Meanwhile, according to the Beige Book, an influential source of information released by the US Federal Reserve, the US economy has deteriorated over the last six weeks.

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