Jobless rate hits 8.1% in February as a record-high 12.5 million people are unemployed.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The U.S. 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.
Other economists echoed Gilliam's view that the battered labor market has yet to hit bottom. John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia, pointed to the weekly initial jobless claims, which are still above 600,000 a week, and the large increase in the number of people working part time when they'd prefer full-time work as signs of more job losses to come.
"I'd love to believe this is the worst, but I suspect we'll continue to lose jobs for months to come," he said. "All we can hope is that the pace would slow down."
Underemployment rate keeps rising as well
The number of workers with part-time jobs who either can't find full-time positions or have had their hours cut jumped by 787,000 in February to 8.6 million.
Counting those part-time workers, along with discouraged job seekers no longer counted as unemployed by the government, the so-called underemployment rate hit 14.8% in February, up from 13.9% in January. This was the fifth straight record high for that reading, which has been calculated since 1994.
Silvia said the cut in total hours worked and the jump in those now working only part-time are both signs that the overall economy will continue to slow.
He said many people with part-time jobs are not earning enough to pay their bills. That will probably lead to more cuts in consumer spending, which in turn will lead to more drops in revenue for businesses and more layoffs.
The job losses were widespread, with manufacturing and construction companies, as well as business and professional services firms all losing more than 100,000 workers.
The report also showed that businesses in more three-quarters of the sectors in the economy reduced the number of jobs in the last month. Over the last three months, 83.2% percent of industries have lost workers, a record high for that reading.
"What started in construction and manufacturing and financial services has spread to every industry," said Gilliam.