The government reported Friday that employers slashed 651,000 jobs in February, down from a revised loss of 655,000 jobs in January. December's loss was also revised higher to a loss of 681,000 jobs, a 59-year high for losses in one month.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 650,000 jobs in February.
The unemployment rate rose to 8.1% from 7.6% in January. It was the highest reading since December 1983 and higher than economists' projections of 7.9%.
The survey of households found 12.5 million people are now unemployed, the most since records started being kept in 1940.
The job losses were widespread, with manufacturing and construction companies, as well as business and professional services firms all losing more than 100,000 workers.
The report also showed that businesses in more three-quarters of the sectors in the economy reduced the number of jobs in the last month. Over the last three months, 83.2% percent of industries have lost workers, a record high for that reading.