As companies buckle under the strain of the recession, US employers cut over 650,000 jobs in February.
The US Labor Department also sharply revised upwards the January and December jobless figures. Job losses in February were broad based, the only sectors to add workers were government, education and health services. The latest unemployment rate is 8.1 percent of the working population, that is the highest in 25 years. Since the recession started in December 2007, the US economy has lost 4.4 million jobs – more than half of those in the last four months. The White House hopes its massive stimulus package will break the economy’s alarming downward spiral. President Barack Obama said: “I know that at this defining moment for America we have responsibility to ourselves and our children to do it (stimulate the economy) once again. We have a responsibility to act and that’s what I intend to do as president of the United States of America.” At the US Congress they are worried about the link between layoffs and people losing their homes. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Joint Economic Committee said: “The stimulus will need time to kick in. But the magnitude of the job losses we have seen indicates that additional measures may be needed. Not surprisingly, most of the states with the highest foreclosure rates also have unemployment rates much higher than the national average.” In the harsh economic environment, the latest data from the US Mortgage Bankers Association makes grim reading. It shows about one in eight homeowners with mortgages ended last year either behind on their payments or having their homes seized by lenders for non payment. In Florida it is one in five home loans.