Jobless rate bolts to 8.1 percent

March 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
If you lost your job in February - you have company - a lot of company. The Labor Department has released the figures for how many jobs were lost last month.

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The higher-than expected figures are not going to bode well on Wall Street. The last thing investors want to hear is that employers are laying off Americans at a faster-than-anticipated pace.

The Labor Department's new national jobless figures show 651,000 people lost their jobs last month, marking one of the worst months since the recession started in December 2007. The nation's unemployment rate shot up to 8.1 percent in February - the highest since late 1983.

If there's some light amidst this grim picture. It's that the Bay Area continues to fare slightly better than California as whole. This simply means fewer Bay Area residents are losing their jobs than statewide. But even so, local unemployment is rising here too.

January's statewide unemployment rate reached a 26 year high of 10.1 percent. Jobs lost range from the retail sector to manufacturing, constructions and professional services. Of all the Bay Area, the unemployment is the highest in the South Bay at 9.4 percent. The region has shed thousands of jobs specifically in the high-tech field of computer and electronic manufacturing - from Sun Microsystems, IBM, Hewlett Packard and Spansion - to eBay and Yahoo. The job losses are rough in Silicon Valley.

Nationwide there is also a situation where many workers are not losing their jobs as employers' profits take a hit. But instead they're feeling the strain through pay cuts or frozen wages, and the trimming of work hours.

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