[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."]
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.
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.
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