American unemployment rose from 7.6% to 8.1% in February, with non-farm payroll employment data continuing its steep decline.
These figures, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, equate to a drop of 651,000 in the number of people on the payroll.
This brings the total decline in non-farm payroll employment to 2.6m over the past four months.
Since December 2007, the beginning of the recession in America, the Bureau estimates that about 4.4m jobs have been lost.
Although employment in the financial sector has been hardest hit, falling by 448,000 since its peak in December 2006, jobs are also being shed in construction and manufacturing, illustrating the impact of the financial crisis on the broader economy.