Unemployment soars to 8.1 percent as talk of depression grows

Almost everyone in financial circles -- and in the known universe, or so it seemed -- expected a poor February U.S. jobs report, given the pronounced U.S. recession, and the report did not disappoint in its disappointment.

The economy shed 651,000 jobs in February, its sixth consecutive mega-month decline, the U.S. Labor Department announced Friday, as companies continued to pare jobs in the face of slack demand from consumers and businesses and a poor economic outlook. Accordingly, the nation's unemployment rate surged again, to 8.1% in February from 7.6% in January. In January, the economy lost 655,000 jobs, revised up from the previously-released 598,000, when unemployment rose to 7.5% from 7.2% in December 2008.

The 8.1% unemployment rate is the highest jobless rate in 25 years.