Friday, February 6, 2009

Recession Job Losses Hit 3.6 Million

BRIAN BLACKSTONE Nonfarm payrolls, which are calculated by a survey of establishments, tumbled 598,000 in January, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday, the most since December 1974 and well above the 525,000 drop Wall Street economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey expected. December was revised to show an even steeper decline of 577,000. The government included revisions for all of 2008, which showed that the U.S. lost about 3 million jobs last year, roughly 400,000 more than first thought. The economy has shed 3.5 million jobs since January 2008, the largest 12-month decline since the government started compiling those figures in 1939. The unemployment rate, which is calculated using a survey of households, jumped 0.4 percentage point to 7.6%, the highest since September 1992. Some economists think the jobless rate may hit 9% in coming months. By some broader measures, labor-market conditions are even worse than the main numbers suggest. When marginally attached and involuntary part-time workers are included, the rate of unemployed or underemployed workers actually reached 13.9% last month, up almost five percentage points from a year earlier. The employment-to-population ratio was the lowest since 1986.

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