The 63,000 jobs lost in February, along with the 22,000 lost in January, fueled concerns that the economy may already be in a recession. The report from the U.S. Department of Labor garnered a hastily arranged White House appearance by President Bush.

“Losing a job is painful, and I know Americans are concerned about our economy; so am I,” President Bush said during the White House appearance. “It’s clear our economy has slowed.”

Despite the loss being the largest in five years, the unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged at 4.8 percent. The number of unemployed also remained steady at 7.4 million people in February.

Job losses occurred in manufacturing, construction and retail trade. Health care and food services continued to add jobs.

Employment in retail trade declined by 34,000. Of those, 6,000 jobs were lost in the automotive retail sector.

Manufacturing jobs fell by 52,000, bringing losses over the past 12 months to 299,000. Of those, motor vehicles and parts manufacturing saw a decrease of 13,000 jobs.

Employment in construction decreased by 39,000 in February, and has fallen by 331,000 since its most recent peak in September 2006. During this period, residential specialty trades lost 209,000 jobs, while residential building lost 137,000 jobs.