A record high 12.5 million people are unemployed

Grim new unemployment numbers from the government show that 651,000 people lost their jobs in February and the jobless rate hit 8.1 percent, the highest in 25 years.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 650,000 jobs in February.

The survey of households found 12.5 million people are now unemployed, the most since records started being kept in 1940. Total job losses over the last six months are more than 3.3 million.

The unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent from 7.6 percent in January. That was the highest since December 1983, when the jobless rate was 8.3 percent.

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.

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