651,000 Jobs Lost In February

The official totals for February are out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics today, and they are worse than previously thought. Unemployment is now at 8.1 percent, its highest rate in 25 years. A Bloomberg survey predicted unemployment would remain below 8 percent in February. Looks like they were wrong.

Estimates put the number of layoffs in February at 650,000, so the official numbers are a bit worse, but revised information for January and December shows that there were fewer jobs lost in February than in the previous two months. January shed 655,000 jobs, and employers laid off 681,000 people in December.

President Obama responded to the figures: “This country has never responded to a crisis by sitting on the sidelines and hoping for the best” and asserting that government has a huge role to play in bringing out the best in the American people.” The first tax credits in his stimulus bill, signed last month, take effect April 1 in the form of reduced payroll withholdings, the New York Times said. [New York Times]