US economy sheds 80,000 jobs in March

WASHINGTON - U.S. employers cut payrolls for a third month in a row in March and the unemployment rate jumped to a 2-1/2 year high, adding more evidence that a housing downturn and credit crisis may have pushed the economy into a recession.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Fri 4 Apr 2008, 9:36 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:35 AM

The Labor Department on Friday reported that March non-farm payrolls fell 80,000, the biggest decline in five years.

Adding to the bleak picture, the department revised the first two months of the year’s job losses to a total of 152,000 from a previous estimate of 85,000. The March unemployment rate jumped to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent, the highest since a matching rate in September 2005.

The March job report was more bleak than expected. Economists polled ahead of the report forecast a decline of 60,000 in non-farm payrolls and a rise in the unemployment rate to 5 percent.

U.S. government debt prices jumped on the weak data as financial markets anticipated more interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve. The U.S. dollar and stock index futures fell.

“There doesn’t appear to be any silver lining. It shows that we’re right in the middle of a recession that will probably take a while,” said Carl Lantz, U.S. interest rate strategist at Credit Suisse in New York.

“Our expectation is that it will be a longer recession than the last two and we’re just in the beginning,” Lantz added.

During the first quarter of this year job losses averaged 77,000 a month, compared to average monthly gains of 76,000 in the last half of 2007, according to Keith Hall, Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner.

Job losses were widespread in March, with the biggest losses in construction and manufacturing. Factory employment fell by 48,000, the biggest decline since July 2003.

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