Jobless America: Employers Cut 651,000 Jobs; Unemployment Rate At 8.1 Percent

The country lost another 650,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent as companies continued to slash payrolls in the face of an unyielding recession.

In the last four months alone, employers shed 2.6 million jobs. Last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job declines were "widespread across nearly all major industry sectors."

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The government also reported that December and January sustained greater job losses than previously calculated. Employers shed 681,000 jobs in December and 655,000 jobs in January. The new December total rivals losses not seen in some 60 years.

Only a handful of sectors have added jobs: education, health care and government.

The people on the front lines of the job search know firsthand just how bad it really is.

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In New York City, where 6.6 percent of the workforce is unemployed, nearly 4,000 people lined up for a job fair this week.

"I work on it every day," job seeker Juliet Giamartino said. "My husband works on it every day. You got to put in to get out."

Economists have predicted that the country, stuck in a recession since December 2007, will continue to bleed jobs well into the second half of next year.

In February, companies large and small and across all sectors of the economy announced they were shedding jobs in hopes of remaining profitable. Chrysler, for instance, was just one of the big American companies last month to fire workers in hopes of staying afloat in this recession.

The country's No. 3 automaker announced recently that as part of its financial viability plan it would cut another 3,000 jobs. Since January 2007, the company has cut 32,000 positions, or 37 percent of its work force. These latest cuts will bring that number to 35,000.

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Chrysler's cuts came despite the $4 billion in loans the company has received from the federal government. Like Chrysler, top U.S. automaker General Motors and French car company Peugeot have also received billions in government aid but still recently slashed thousands of jobs.

Peugeot plans to cut its work force by up to 12,000 jobs, despite a recent $4 billion bailout by the French government, while GM also announced last month that it would cut 10,000 jobs by May and continue global layoffs through the year. Mid-level salaries, the company said, would also be reduced by 3 to 7 percent, and executives would take 10 percent pay cuts.

Electronics Layoffs

A cheap night at home in front of the television may have new appeal for cost-conscious consumers these days, but that hasn't made television manufacturers and their employees immune to the recession.

Pioneer, known for making plasma televisions as well as other products, will shutter its TV business in favor of focusing on car electronics. The Tokyo-based company, which has projected a record loss for 2009, will cut 10,000 jobs around the world, including 4,000 temporary employees.

Fellow Japanese company Panasonic Corp., the electronics giant known for flat-screen TVs as well as digital cameras, announced in early February that it would slash 15,000 jobs and close 27 plants worldwide.

Panasonic, which saw its third-quarter sales drop by 20 percent, announced its first annual loss in six years.

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