WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in December, the highest level in 15 years, as 524,000jobs were slashed in the month, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Total non-farm payroll employment fell by 524,000 over the month, bringing total job losses in 2008 to 2.6 million, and by 1.9 million over the past four months, said the report, adding that the unemployment rate for December was the highest since January 1993.
Employment in nearly all major industry sectors dropped over the last four-month period of 2008.
The manufacturing sector has lost 791,000 jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007, the report said.
The largest declines over the month occurred in fabricated metals and in motor vehicles with 28,000 and 21,000 job losses respectively.
In December, construction employment dropped by 101,000, the services sector lost 81,000 jobs, while employment in retail and wholesale trade fell by 67,000 and 30,000 separately.
Employment in health care increased by 32,000 over the last month and added a total of 372,000 jobs in 2008, the report said, noting that it was the only major private industry sector that continued to add a significant number of jobs.