America's unemployment rate climbed to 6.2 percent in January, its highest level since 1987, as a slumping economy forced 115,000 Americans onto the jobless rolls, the government said Friday.

Utah's jobless rate edged up 0.1 percent to 4.4 percent in January, the state Department of Employment Security said Friday. Some 35,000 Utahns were out of work in January, officials said.Last month's rise in the civilian jobless rate, up from December's rate of 6.1 percent, means that unemployment since June has shot up at its fastest pace since the last recession.

Over the past seven months, 1.2 million Americans have joined the ranks of the unemployed and the nation has suffered its worst stretch of layoffs and job losses since 1982, with payrolls falling by more than 1 million jobs, Friday's report showed.

In January alone, the economy lost 232,000 jobs, a much bigger jobs decline than had been expected. Manufacturing and construction were particularly hard hit, the report said.

The number of people added to unemployment rolls differs from the job losses number because the government calculates the numbers from different surveys of households and business establishments; in addition, people holding two jobs may have lost half their income but not yet joined the ranks of unemployed.

"There is no end in sight to a severe and sharp downturn. This report dashes hopes that this would be a short, mild recession," said Allen Sinai, chief economist at the Boston Co.

The Federal Reserve's quick action was "exactly the right medicine" given a government report that was "so bad and so shocking in terms of job loss," Sinai said.

Even a mild recession was expected to put another 1 million Americans out of work by the end of the year if the unemployment rate peaked at around 7 percent later this year, analysts said.

January's 6.2 percent rate was the highest since a similar 6.2 percent reading in June 1987.

Construction payrolls fell by 155,000, after seasonal adjustment, to reflect a continued weakness in the housing market.

Factory payrolls fell by 69,000, the government said, bringing manufacturing job losses since January 1989 to 900,000. During that two-year period, factory payrolls have fallen every month but two.


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Feds cut lending rate

The Federal Reserve Board Friday lowered its key bank lending rate from 6.5 percent to 6 percent in a move designed to push interest rates lower and help the economy out of recession. It was the second reduction by the Fed in the discount rate in six weeks.