The March 2009 employment situation report, released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that the labor market continued its free fall in March. Unemployment increased sharply to 8.5%, its highest level since 1983, and payroll employment declined by 663,000 jobs, an average of over 30,000 jobs lost every work day in March. This was the third steepest decline in fifteen straight months of job losses. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the economy has shed 5.1 million jobs, including 2.7 million jobs lost in the last four months alone. “This morning’s employment report offered no hint of light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, it showed that the labor market is still in its darkest months,” said economist Heidi Shierholz. Read more.