Unemployment Rate Hits 5-Year High

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(CBS/ AP) The nation's unemployment rate zoomed to a five-year high of 6.1 percent in August as employers slashed 84,000 jobs, dramatic proof of the mounting damage a deeply troubled economy is inflicting on workers and businesses alike.

The Labor Department's report, released Friday, showed the increasing toll the housing, credit and financial crises are taking on the economy.

"There’s no question that the labor market is weaker than we’d like to see," White House Press Secretary Tony Fratto said Friday. He added that the economic stimulus plan and the administration's monetary policy "will continue to support growth through this difficult period," reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

Despite the report, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed more than 32 points Friday. But the modest gains were not enough to avoid the fourth straight week of decline. All the major stock indexes tumbled into bear territory Thursday as investors lost hope of a late-year recovery. With the employment situation deteriorating, there's growing worry that consumers will recoil, throwing the economy into a tailspin later this year or early next year.

The jobless rate jumped to 6.1 percent in August, from 5.7 percent in July. And, employers cut payrolls for the eighth month in a row. Job losses in June and July turned out to be much deeper. The economy lost a whopping 100,000 jobs in June and another 60,000 in July, according to revised figures. Previously, the government reported job losses at 51,000 in each of those months.

So far this year, job losses totaled 605,000.