Unemployment rate continues to rise in March

The U.S. unemployment rate increased from 8.1 percent in February to 8.5 percent in March—the highest since 1983, according to MSNBC.com.

Employers cut 663,000 jobs in March, which was slightly higher than the 654,000 economists expected. Since the recession began in December 2007, 5.1 million jobs have been lost; almost two-thirds of that decline happened during the past five months. There are now 13.2 million unemployed people in the U.S., and another 9 million people have been forced to work part time.

Factories were hit hard again in March, losing 161,000 jobs. Professional and business services fell by 133,000 jobs; construction employment fell by 126,000 jobs; retail employment fell by 50,000 jobs; and leisure and hospitality fell by 40,000 jobs.

Employment grew in education and health care.

The Federal Reserve believes the unemployment rate will remain elevated until 2011, and economists say the job market may not get back to normal—meaning a 5 percent unemployment rate—until 2013.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says if the government succeeds in boosting the banking system, the recession could end later this year and the economy could begin to recover next year.

Date : 4/6/2009