8.5%: Unemployment highest in 25 years

The risk is that if job losses continue at their recent pace, nervous consumers will be less likely to commit to the types of big-ticket items that usually propel recoveries, stamping out a recovery before it takes hold…

January’s decline is the third-largest on record. However, the other two — a 834,000 decline in 1949 and a nearly two million plunge in 1945 — were driven by one-time events including a large coal and steel strike and by the end of World War II.