The likelihood of a recession increased substantially on Friday as new evidence of falling employment came to light.
In the second consecutive monthly decline and the third straight slip for private-sector jobs, the Labor Department estimated on March 7 that the economy lost 63,000 jobs in January. The New York Times noted that "every time such a slump has occurred since the early 1970s, a recession has followed--or already been under way."
The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent in January.
The jobs report was so bleak that several of the few remaining optimistic Wall Street watchers conceded that the United States was indeed in a recession, noting that unemployment typically starts to rise only after a recession has started.
Earlier in the week, a dismal private-sector employment report foreshadowed the Labor Department's report as ADP (Automatic Data Processing) announced March 5 a drop of 23,000 private-sector jobs in January, signaling a deceleration of employment growth across all business sizes.