Recession fears grow as US employers cut 80,000 jobs in March
US employers cut 80,000 jobs in March, the largest decline in five years, a new government report has shown.
The increase in job losses led to the national unemployment rate rising from 4.8 per cent in February to 5.1 per cent in March.
The new figures mark the highest unemployment rate since September 2005, just after Hurricane Katrina struck the US Gulf coast.
The drop in employment figures is the third monthly decline in succession and is the latest indicator that the US economy may be falling into recession.
Experts had been predicting much lower figures for March's job cuts of between 50,000 and 60,000.
"Some people were questioning whether we're in a recession. Now they can't. We're clearly and positively in a recession," Robert MacIntosh of Eaton Vance Corp said.
The labour department survey published on Friday showed that a total of 232,000 jobs were cut by US employers during the first three months on 2008 amid serious economic uncertainty at home as well as abroad.
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Barnanke told the US Congress on Wednesday that the world's largest economy may well slip into a recession but claimed that any downturn would likely to be mild.