The American economy surrendered 663,000 more jobs in March as the unemployment rate surged to 8.5 percent, its highest level since 1983, the government reported Friday.
The latest snapshot of accelerating decline in the national job market lifted to 5.1 million the number of jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007. More than two million jobs have disappeared over the first three months alone.
The severity and breadth of the job losses — which afflicted nearly every industry outside of education and health care — prompted economists to conclude that an agonizing plunge in employment prospects was still unfolding, with no clear turnaround in sight.“It’s really just about as bad as can be imagined,” said Dean Baker, a director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. “There’s just no way we’re anywhere near a bottom. We’ll be really lucky if we stop losing jobs by the end of the year.”