US Sees Worst Decline in Jobs Since 2003

Payrolls dropped by 63,000; recession fears intensify
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Mar 7, 2008 7:58 AM CST

(Newser) – The US lost 63,000 jobs in February, the second straight month payrolls contracted and the worst drop since 2003, catching economists off guard and fanning fears of recession anew, Bloomberg reports. Economists hoped the economy would add 23,000 jobs after declining a modest 17,000 in January, when the unemployment rate rose to 4.9%.

The Labor Department said the jobless rate actually declined to 4.8% last month, indicating the market was so bad that some unemployed workers had stopped looking for work. Adding to the woes: Labor revised downward by 50% earlier figures showing 82,000 jobs were added in December. February hourly wages rose 0.3% to $17.80 as expected. February’s biggest jobs changes:

  • Manufacturing: -52,000
  • Building: -39,000
  • Retail: -34,100
  • Service: +26,000
  • Government: +38,000