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Meltdown 101: Job Losses Highest In 50 Years

CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ Here's another sign of how bad the recession is: It has eliminated more jobs as a proportion of the work force than any downturn since 1958, according to economists.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers cut 663,000 jobs last month, bringing the total net losses in the current recession to 5.1 million. The unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent in March, the department said, the highest in more than 25 years.

Total net payrolls have dropped by 3.7 percent since the downturn began in December 2007. That's more than the 3.1 percent loss of jobs in the steep 1981-82 recession, according to economists at Deutsche Bank. It's far more than the 1.2 percent lost in the 2001 downturn and 1.1 percent in 1990-91, and it also tops the 1.6 percent of jobs lost in the 1973-75 recession.

You have to go back even earlier to find a worse figure, according to Deutsche Bank: In 1957-58, job losses totaled 4 percent. The current recession will likely beat that total if job losses continue to mount, as economists expect.

There are many other nuggets of data buried in the fine print of Friday's employment report. Here are a few of the more interesting details, by the numbers.

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