The nation's unemployment rate climbed to 4.3% in March, the highest level in 20 months, as businesses cut 86,000 jobs, the Department of Labor reported today.
The drop was the largest since November 1991, when payrolls plummeted by 94,000 people.
Industry-wide, there were several significant job cuts. Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. slashed 7,600 positions, while Volvo Trucks North America and Wabash National Corp. have made layoffs to a lesser extent.
During the first week in April, jobs were cut at Visteon Corp. and Mack Trucks Inc.
Many analysts believe manufacturing is already in a recession and some worry the weakness could spread and end the nation's record-long stretch of uninterrupted growth, which started its 11th year in March.
The decline in total payrolls followed a 140,000-person gain in February, according to revised Department of Labor figures.