84,000 jobs cut in Aug.; jobless rate hits 5-year high of 6.1% - USATODAY.com
Businesses shed 84,000 jobs in August as the unemployment rate soared to a five-year peak of 6.1%, the Labor Department said Friday in a report providing stark evidence that the economy is foundering. Fully 2.2 million Americans have lost their jobs in the past 12 months, as the unemployment rate has climbed from 4.7%. So far in 2008, firms have laid off 605,000 workers, with job losses averaging 76,000 a month. As in recent months, the manufacturing and construction industries took hits. But the huge services sector also felt the pain, with temporary employment firms reporting major declines and retail employment sliding. Health care continued to be a growth area, while government payrolls also rose in August. "It doesn't have the air of being a full-fledged recession. But the really alarming part is the unemployment rate, which had already gone up more than expected in July and took another leg up in August ... that's definitely kind of shocking" says Bill Cheney, chief economist of John Hancock Financial.