WASHINGTON – Unemployment rose to a 16-year high of 7.2% in December, as businesses cut 524,000 non-farm jobs, the Department of Labor reported today.

The economy lost 2.6 million jobs last year–1.9 million in the last four months–the most since 1945. The total number of jobs declined during each month of 2008.

The number of persons unemployed in December was 11.1 million, up from 10.4 million the previous month.

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