The unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent in March, up from 8.1 percent in February, as employers shed 663,000 jobs last month, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Job losses in March were large and extended across nearly all major industry sectors, according to the report. Manufacturing employment fell by 161,000 in March, with widespread job losses in the component industries. Factory employment has declined by 1 million in the last six months. In March, the largest decreases occurred in fabricated metal products, machinery and transportation equipment.
Since the recession began in December 2007, 5.1 million jobs have been lost, with almost two-thirds (3.3 million) occurring in the last five months.
In the last 12 months, the number of unemployed has grown by about 5.3 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 3.4 percentage points. Half of the increase in both the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate occurred in the last four months.