The Labor Department revised the first two months of the year's job losses to a total of 152,000 from a previous estimate of 85,000. The March unemployment rate jumped to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent, the highest since a matching rate in September 2005.
Economists did not expect these numbers for March, having forecasted a decline of 60,000 in non-farm payrolls and a rise in the unemployment rate to 5 percent.
During the first quarter of this year job losses averaged 77,000 a month, compared to average monthly gains of 76,000 in the last half of 2007, according to Keith Hall, Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner.
Job losses were widespread during the month, with the biggest losses in the construction and manufacturing sectors.