Unemployment rate highest in 16 years; 598,000 layoffs announced in January

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest damage report with regard to the jobs scenario, the worrying pace at which massive layoffs were announced by industries has resulted in the highest unemployment rate in the last 16 years.

The leap in jobless rate to 7.6 percent was an upshot of the nearly 598,000 layoffs in January. Figures show that out of the 3.6 million jobs cut since December 2007, when the downturn began, almost half of the job-cuts came during the last three-month span.

As per the January unemployment figures of the recession-hit economy, the manufacturing sector cut 207,000 jobs - the largest layoffs in one single month since October
1982 - while construction cut 111,000 jobs. On the whole, the unemployed figures for January stood at 11.6 million.

Emphasizing the need for swift passage the economic stimulus bill, Sen. Edward Kennedy said that the job-loss figures bear out the fact that the economy remains in "free-fall," and added: "We need strong measures to put people back to work."

In the opinion of most economists, the economy is expected to go from bad to worse before a turnaround for the better; and the unemployment rate may even rise to 9 percent before improving.

Bank of Americs chief economist, Mickey Levy, said that, without doubt, the recession has intensified, and the economy at present is passing through its "worst part."