New unemployment claims climbed again last week, putting total claims above 5.5 million and establishing another record high. The U.S. has shed around 4.4. million jobs since the beginning of recession in 2007, and nearly half of those layoffs actually occurred over the last three months. Meanwhile, GDP fell a reported 6.3% at the end of last year, revised downward from initial estimates of a 6.2% drop. The revision was actually less severe than many analyst expected, but still marks GDP's worst performance since 1982. However, retail sales barely dropped in February, and housing starts jumped 22.2%. Federal government spending jumped 7.0% at the end of last year also.
See Jeff Bater and Brian Blackstone, The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2009