Job losses in March exceeded even the gloomiest of predictions.
April 4 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. lost jobs for a third consecutive month in March and unemployment rose to the highest level in two and a half years, pointing to an economy that may already be in a recession.
Payrolls shrank by 80,000, more than forecast, after a decrease of 76,000 in February that was more than initially reported, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The jobless rate rose to 5.1 percent, the highest since September 2005, from 4.8 percent.
Economists had projected payrolls would fall by 50,000 following a previously reported 63,000 drop in February, according to the median of 79 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. Economists’ forecasts ranged from a decline of 150,000 to a gain of 65,000.
Revisions subtracted 67,000 jobs from the originally reported figures for January and February. The last time the economy lost jobs for at least three consecutive months coincided with the start of the Iraq War in 2003.
The jobless rate was forecast to rise to 5 percent from 4.8 percent in February, the survey said.