By Christopher S. Rugaber -- AP Economics Writer
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.
THE STATE OF UNEMPLOYMENT
13.2 million: People unemployed in March 2009 — the most ever in records that date to 1948
12.8 million: Population of Illinois, President Obama's home state
A CITY'S WORTH OF JOB LOSSES
663,000: Net loss of jobs in March 2009
637,000: Population of Baltimore
COLLEGE STILL COUNTS
4.3 percent: Unemployment rate for college graduates
9 percent: Unemployment rate for people who graduated from high school but did not attend college
13.3 percent: Unemployment rate for those with no high school diploma
9 million: Number of part-time workers who would have preferred full-time work last month — the most in records dating to 1955
2.1 million: People without jobs who wanted to work, were available and had looked in the last 12 months, but had not looked in the last month.
15.6 percent: Unemployment rate including involuntary part-time workers and those who hadn't looked in 12 months — the highest in records dating to 1994
DOWNTURNS, THEN AND NOW
8.5 percent: Unemployment rate in March 2009
10.8 percent: Unemployment rate in December 1982, one month after deep recession ended
October 1983: Last time the unemployment rate was higher than the current level
59.9 percent: Portion of the total population that had jobs in February
July 1985: Last time the portion was this low
MARCH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE BY GROUP
8.8 percent: Adult men
7 percent: Adult women
10.8 percent: Female heads of households
6.4 percent: Asians
7.9 percent: Whites
11.4 percent: Hispanics
13.3 percent: Blacks
21.7 percent: Teenagers
RECESSION AS JOB KILLER
5.1 million: Net job losses since recession began in December 2007
651,000: Jobs lost in February 2009
741,000: Jobs lost in January 2009
681,000: Jobs lost in December 2008
122,000: Jobs lost in March 2008
60,000: Number of households interviewed in the monthly Census Bureau survey from which the unemployment rate is extrapolated
40 percent: Portion of companies in the survey of businesses, from which payroll and job loss numbers are extrapolated, with fewer than 20 employees
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