Job Seekers, Be Patient

By Toni Vranjes

April 3, 2009

Be prepared for more and more competition for those coveted jobs.

The U.S. unemployment rate reached 8.5 percent in March, up from 8.1 percent the month earlier, the Labor Department reported today. A prominent economic forecaster is predicting the jobless rate will peak at 10 percent, either later this year or in 2010.

“People have to be patient,” says Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. “It will be a while before the labor market hits bottom.”

In March, employers cut 663,000 jobs, with the losses spread across nearly every industry sector. The declines were especially severe in manufacturing, construction, and temporary help services.

The country has lost 5.1 million jobs since the beginning of the recession in December 2007.

As grim as the news is, the toll could have been even worse. Gault says the worst fears were that the economy would lose 750,000 jobs in March.

“It’s good relative to that fear, but it doesn’t make the report good,” he says.

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