The March nonfarm payroll employment report from the U.S. Labor Department, released Friday morning, showed a loss of 663,000 jobs during the month, which pushed the national unemployment rate up to 8.5% from 8.1%.
The economy has shed 5.1 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, with 3.3 million of those lost during the past five months, the Labor Department said.
Moreover, job losses for January were revised downward January from -655,000 to -741,000, the third worst drop on record. February remained -651,000.
According to the department's household survey, which differs from its payroll data, the number of unemployed persons increased by 694,000 to 13.2 million in March. In addition to the job losses, there were an additional2.1 million persons "marginally attached to the labor force" in March, 754,000 more than a year earlier.
The job losses were widespread, with only health care showing an increase.Manufacturing was down 161,000, and the labor department said factory employment has declined by a million jobs during the past six months.Construction lost another 126,000 jobs in March, bringing total losses to1.3 million since peak in January 2007, with more than half the decline coming during the past five months.
Other sectors showed similar losses: professional and business services were down 133,000; retail down 48,000; financial off 43,000; leisure and hospitality down 40,000; and transportation/warehousing off 34,000.
The average workweek for nonfarm, non-supervisory workers fell 0.1% to 33.2 hours, the lowest level on record since tracking began in 1964. Average hourly earnings was up 3 cents, or 0.2%, seasonally adjusted, following a gain of 4 cents in February. On a year-over-year basis, average hourly earnings increased by 3.4%, and average weekly earnings rose by 1.5%.