The U.S. unemployment rate has reached its highest level in a quarter of a century last month and is likely to keep rising for some time to come.

Noble County posted the highest unemployment rate in Oklahoma at 12.4 percent in March 2009, followed by Hughes at 11.3 percent and McCurtain County at 11.2 percent.

The number of unemployed persons increased by 3 percent in Ottawa County over the past 12 months. There is an estimated 1,270 people that are currently unemployed in Ottawa County, putting the unemployment rate at 7.1 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed persons increased by 694,000 to 13.2 million, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has grown by about 5.3 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 3.4 percentage points.

Hard economic times are forcing consumers to pull back their spending, sending businesses already hurting from the credit crunch into further despair. Though the number of jobs in almost every major industry in thecountry is predicted to decline, forecasters said the losses would come at a slower rate next year.

It is one of a few modest economic bright spots forecasters said could be in store for the country. However some research says that there will be no recovery until 2010.