February employment data were dismal again and their analysis is easy: recession continues and the decline appears to have worsened.

Overall, the employment data were weaker than expected. Payrolls fell 651,000 and the January-December revisions showed a further drop of161,000. In addition to job losses and hours and earnings are dropping, the big surprise was a 0.5 point surge in the civilian unemployment rate to 8.1%, a 25-year high, which was the largest jump since December 1983.

The unemployment surge reflected a rise across groups and ages, and was due to a surge in layoffs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said since the recession began, the number of job losers has doubled to 7.7 million and their share of unemployment has risen to 62.3% from 50%.

The last time there was such a monthly surge in job losses was October 1949, during a steel strike. Of course, the labor force was far smaller at that time.

Of the 4.4 million jobs lost in this recession, well more than half were lost in the last four months.

 — Market News International

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.