augusta free press news

Unemployment tops 8 percent

Unemployment was at a 25-year high in February, according to data released this morning by the United States Department of Labor.
The rate hit 8.1 percent nationally as 851,000 more Americans lost their jobs in the month. The job losses pushed the 12-month running total to 5 million. 

The national unemployment rate in February 2008 was 4.8 percent.

We’re now two months behind in getting data on unemployment in Virginia. The Virginia Employment Commission has not released new unemployment numbers for the state or localities since numbers were released in late January for the month of December 2008.

Inside the national numbers:

– The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 270,000 to 2.9 million in February. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed was up by 1.6


– In February, the number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) rose by 787,000, reaching 8.6 million. The number of such workers rose by 3.7 million over the past 12 months. This category includes persons who would like to work full time but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were

unable to find full-time jobs.

– About 2.1 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attached to the labor force in February, 466,000 more than a year earlier. These individuals wanted and were available for work and

had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

– Among the marginally attached, there were 731,000 discouraged workers in February, up by 335,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in February had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

– Employment in professional and business services fell by 180,000 in February. The temporary help industry lost 78,000 jobs over the month. Since December 2007, temporary help employment has declined by 686,000, or 27 percent. In February, job declines also occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (-17,000), architectural and engineering services (-16,000), and business support services


– Widespread job losses continued in manufacturing in February (-168,000). The majority of the decline occurred in durable goods industries (-132,000), with the largest decreases in fabricated metal products (-28,000) and machinery (-25,000). Employment in nondurable goods manufacturing declined by 36,000 over the month.

– The construction industry lost 104,000 jobs in February. Employment in the industry has fallen by 1.1 million since peaking in January 2007. Two-fifths of that decline occurred over the last four months. Employment fell sharply in both the residential and nonresidential components of the industry in February.

– Employment in truck transportation declined by 33,000 in February; the industry has lost 138,000 jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007. Nearly two-thirds of the decline (-88,000) occurred over the last four months.

– The information industry continued to lose jobs (-15,000). Over the last four months, employment in the industry has decreased by 76,000, with about two-fifths of the decline occurring in publishing.

– Employment in financial activities continued to decline in February (-44,000). The number of jobs in this industry has dropped by 448,000 since an employment peak in December 2006, with half of this loss occurring in the past six months. In February, job losses occurred in real estate (-11,000); credit intermediation (-11,000); and securities, commodity contracts, and investments (-8,000).

– Health care continued to add jobs in February, with a gain of 27,000. Job growth occurred in ambulatory health care (16,000) and in hospitals (7,000).


Story by Chris Graham