Dismal Employment Numbers: 80,000 Jobs Lost

Weak jobs growth over the past several years gives way to declines amid Bush recession, writes David Madland.

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For the first time in five years, the U.S. economy lost jobs for three consecutive months, according to figures released today by the Department of Labor. Unemployment shot up to 5.1 percent from 4.8 in February, continuing the string of bad economic news that suggests the economy has entered a recession after years of poor jobs growth under President Bush. The mismanaged, weak economy is continuing to take a toll on working families.

In March, employment was down by 80,000 jobs, and since the start of the year the economy has lost 232,000 jobs. The last time the economy saw three straight months of employment decline was April 2003. Today’s release also indicates that job losses in January and February were worse than initially reported: Employment in those months was revised downward by 67,000 jobs.

The number of unemployed persons rose to 7,815,000 in March. The last time the number of unemployed was so high was in December 2004, and the number of unemployed has not increased as much over the course of a year since August 2002. While the unemployment rate increase of 0.3 percentage points is a significant jump from February, it should more accurately be viewed as a continuation of a year-long trend of rising unemployment.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project