Unemployment Rate Worst Since Early '90s

The U.S. economy lost 598,000 jobs in January, the worst monthly showing since the mid-1970s.
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The U.S. economy lost 598,000 jobs in January, the worst monthly showing since the mid-1970s, and the unemployment rate rose to its worst point in more than 16 years.

The Labor Department said Friday that the jobless rate climbed to 7.6% last month from 7.2% in December as the nation continued to see companies across the board shed workers. An increase to 7.5% was expected. The overall decline in jobs was steeper than the 540,000 consensus figure carried by



Also, revisions added another 66,000 losses to payrolls for November and December.

Firms of every size and in practically every sector have been slashing payrolls for months as the U.S. economy has been suffering through a recession. Among them are some of the most recognizable names in American business --


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Home Depot

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Bank of America

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, just to name a few.

The government said employment has declined by 3.6 million since the start of the recession in December 2007, with about one-half of that occurring in the past three months.

Nearly every major industry saw losses last month, while health care and private education added jobs. Manufacturing employment fell by 207,000 in January, the largest one-month drop since October 1982, the government said.

The construction sector lost 111,000 positions, and retail trade employment fell by 45,000. Employment in financial activities fell by 42,000. On the plus side, health care had a gain of 19,000, and private education added 33,000 workers.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.