Unemployment Rate Hits 8.5%, the Highest Level in Nearly 26 Yrs.

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline sharply in March (-663,000), pushing  the unemployment rate up to 8.5 from 8.1 percent, the highest since 1983, the Department of Labor reported Friday.

Since the recession began in December 2007, 5.1 million jobs have been lost, with almost two-thirds (3.3 million) of the decrease occurring in the last 5 months. In March, job losses were large and widespread across the major industry sectors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its monthly survey of 372 metro areas, found unemployment rates as low as 3.5 percent but also as high of 24.5 percent. [via DOL]

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