March 6th, 2009
10:47 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Unemployment hits 25-year high

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/05/south.economy.jobs/art.southjobs.gi.jpg caption="Hundreds stand in line at a job fair in Florida."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The economy continued to hemorrhage jobs in February, bringing total job losses over the last six months to more than 3.3 million, and taking the unemployment rate to its highest level in 25 years.

The government reported this morning that employers slashed 651,000 jobs in February, down from a revised loss of 655,000 jobs in January. December's loss was also revised higher to a loss of 681,000 jobs, a 59-year high for losses in one month.

The unemployment rate rose to 8.1% from 7.6% in January - the highest unemployment reading since December 1983. The survey of households found 12.5 million people are now unemployed, the highest since the government began keeping records in 1940.

Be sure to check out the next CNN Money Summit tonight at 11 p.m. ET. Ali Velshi and some of the sharpest minds in money take on the February jobs report. Who's firing, who's hiring and what it means to you.

And take a look at CNNMoney.com’s special report: “Get a Job, Keep a Job” and find out why the worst is yet to come for the job market.

Stocks on Wall Street opened to the upside as the payroll numbers came in close to expectations. The Dow Industrials tumbled 281 points Thursday, falling to a fresh 12-year low.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd is moving to allow the FDIC to temporarily borrow as much as $500 billion from the Treasury Dept.

Dodd’s efforts - which come in response to urging from FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner - would give the FDIC access to more money to rebuild its fund that insures consumers' deposits, which have been hard hit by a string of bank failures.

Gas prices rose 7-tenths of a cent overnight to $1.940 a gallon ($1.94 for graphics). 11 states have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. 39 states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.517). The cheapest gas prices are in Wyoming ($1.747)

Finally, nearly 32 million Americans are now subsisting on food stamps. That’s an increase of 700,000 people in one month, and is roughly equivalent to the number of recent monthly job losses.

The government expects to spend $51 billion dollars on food stamps in this fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up $10 billion from fiscal 2008. On average, food stamps provide $115 worth of food per month for a single person and $255 per month per household.

Ohio had the largest increase among large states, up 3.4 percent, to 1.26 million. And Texas ranks at the top in food stamp use, with 3 million people receiving assistance.

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Bailout Turmoil • Economy • Finance • Unemployment • Wall St.
soundoff (5 Responses)

    I believe unemployment is at a 25 year high. Back then, it was the Carter recession. This recession was no where near as bad as it was with Carter. With Obama in office making it far worse than what he inherited from George W. Bush. Now some economist are predicting we have a 30% chance of going into a depression. That is strange. They never predicted that with Bush who inherited Clinton's recssion and after 9/11 If we have a depression, I am sure our socialist president will blame it on Bush. When the American people finally realize that Obama is nothing but a con artist. Voters will discover they made a mistake electing him.

    March 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  2. s. green

    I agree we no longer laugh even though times are bad there is still sunlight. As i sit here today the sun is bright and warm, tomorrow will come and we as a nation will get through it, we don't have to walk with our heads down, look upand feel the sun.

    March 6, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  3. Terry, TX

    Texas wouldn't be in the ranking if the our tax money did not to go to welfare, education, state free college money and welfare health care......for illegal aliens.

    March 6, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  4. Michael C. Mchugh

    So Texas is tops in Food Stamp use? Now Ronald Reagan and the Bushes always held up Texas as a model of what free market capitalism could do for the world.

    By the way, didn't the very conservative governor of Texas, Rick Perry, insist that he was going to turn down all or part of that federal stimulus money? I wonder if he followed through on that....

    March 6, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  5. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    One question---–is there anything happening in the world that is good? I would assume that there are no profits and ratings in reporting good news--but I know that there are substantial profits and rating in reporting on the "miseries of the universe."

    March 6, 2009 at 10:51 am |

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