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April 3 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. unemployment rate climbed in March to the highest level since 1983 and the economy lost more than 650,000 jobs for a fourth consecutive month, a sign renewed reductions in spending might slow a recovery.
The jobless rate increased to 8.5 percent, as forecast, from 8.1 percent in February, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. Employers cut 663,000 workers from staff, bringing total losses since the recession began to about 5.1 million, the biggest slump in the postwar era.
Evaporating jobs and declining pay mean President Barack Obama's pledge to create or save 3.5 million jobs through tax cuts and government spending may fall short of what's needed to revive the world's largest economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has conceded joblessness could top 10 percent under a worst-case scenario.