There's not a lot of good news out there
Unemployment hits 25-year high of 8.1%; productivity declines
The unemployment rate hit 8.1% in February, a nearly 70% increase in one year and the highest level in 25 years. The Labor Department's report Friday was coupled with Thursday's report that showed a slowdown in productivity in manufacturing, leading to a double-whammy for the nation's manufacturers.
"The economy is headed south with a vengeance," Kurt Karl, head of economic research for the U.S. unit of insurer Swiss Re, told CNN on Friday.Manufacturing lost another 168,000 jobs in February, contributing to more than 680,000 jobs lost in the month.
"The payroll numbers are very weak. With the revisions, we've had significant job losses in the past four months," told the BBC. "Companies are reducing workers and output in order to bring inventories into line with weak sales."
The deeper numbers in the Labor Department report are grim at best. Those people out of work for more than six months rose to 2.9 million, and that number has more than doubled in the past 12 months.
Productivity was down in the fourth quarter of 2008. While productivity for the year rose 2.4%, fourth quarter productivity fell 0.4%, according to the Labor Department .
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey