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Unemployment Rate Expected To Jump

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Unemployment Rate Expected To Jump

Economy

Unemployment Rate Expected To Jump

Unemployment Rate Expected To Jump

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The Labor Department issues January's unemployment report on Friday, and it doesn't look good. More than a half million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, part of a spike expected for the month of January. Analysts expect the rate to jump to 7.5 percent in January from 7.2 percent the month before.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

New numbers on the unemployment situation are due out from the government later this morning. The signs are not good. Yesterday, the Labor Department said the number of people filing unemployment claims last week hit a 26-year high. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI: The government said 626,000 people filed for unemployment for the first time last week. That was an increase of 35,000, and it was well above what economists had expected. The government said worker productivity rose sharply, but that was only because so many jobs have been lost and remaining workers are having to shoulder a bigger workload. It wasn't the only piece of bad news on the unemployment front this week.

A report released on Wednesday by ADP Employer Services said more than half a million jobs were lost in January. A number of big-name companies like Caterpillar and Microsoft announced layoffs during the month. All that suggests that this morning's report could contain some bad news. Most economists were expecting a loss of at least a half a million jobs. The nation's payrolls have been shrinking every month for more than a year, but lately the loss of jobs has occurred at an unusually fast pace. In December, employers cut half a million jobs from their payrolls, and the unemployment rate rose from 6.8 to 7.2 percent. And most economists say jobs will continue to disappear at least through the summer - and probably longer. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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