The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 598,000 jobs were lost last month, “far worse than the 525,000 economists expected.” The unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent. The Wall Street Journal notes that the U.S. economy has lost 3.6 million jobs since the recession officially began in Dec. 2007:
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, will likely up the heat on U.S. lawmakers to enact a large fiscal stimulus package.
January was a brutal month for layoffs, “as major companies ranging from Microsoft, Boeing and Caterpillar to Home Depot and Starbucks all announced substantial job cuts.”
Christina Romer, the head of the President’s Council of Economc Advisers, explains: “This is the largest 13-month job loss since the payroll employment series began in 1939.”