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Unemployment Jumps, Worst Month in 34 Years

Written by Nickel - 12 Comments

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Wow. November’s (un)employment numbers are now out, and they’re considerably worse than expected. Employers cut 533k jobs during the month, compared to the expectation of 320k. This is the largest monthly decrease in 34 years. Apparently the numbers would have been even worse, but 422k people left the workforce. Jobs losses were the worst in factories, construction, finance, retailers, and the leisure/hospitality industry. Sprinkled amongst the bad news were job gains in a handful of apparently recession-proof careers, including positions in the government, education, and health services.

Source: Yahoo! News

Published on December 5th, 2008 - 12 Comments
Filed under: Economy,Working

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. We just got word at my company that the raises for next year will be about half of what they were last year. At first I thought, “man that stinks” but at least I still have my job and we’re not laying off people. I feel bad for all those that are losing their jobs but for everyone else – be thankful for what you got. In these times we are truly walking that thin grey line.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 5th 2008 @ 12:53 pm
  2. Well I am really feeling like a statistic this week since I will be part of those job loss numbers for December.

    That is what I get for saying I won’t feel like I am in a recession till I lose MY job.

    I work in the computer industry, software test on large business servers. The cuts this month are only in contract workers and other non-permanent employees.

    December is going to be a doosy!

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 5th 2008 @ 1:00 pm
  3. Danielle, sorry to hear that. I hope you land on your feet.

    Comment by Nickel — Dec 5th 2008 @ 1:02 pm
  4. i really hate these, worst since or in x years. it really has usefulness. yes, regrettably we know people are losing jobs. we are still normal european unemployment levels, so things aren’t that bad (so says someone who hasn’t lost his job). we’ll reach around 10%, so factor it in. on the plus side, my wife has been told she has more projects, so voila she’s part of the 92.3% employed.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 5th 2008 @ 4:16 pm
  5. Danielle, that sucks. Hope something comes up soon, file for unemployment right away. It’s not much but it helps. Mr M is on unemployment right now, he’s getting discouraged cause he keeps sending out his resume and doesn’t even get a call back.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 5th 2008 @ 4:41 pm
  6. Scary to see those numbers. Scary that analysts predict that the unemployment rate is going to go higher, and more layoffs are ahead of us.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 5th 2008 @ 4:44 pm
  7. Hello.
    Is it not amazing what a few politician/ideologues can accomplish by declaring and enforcing their social engineering view on the rest of US?
    Can you say Community Reinvestment Act?

    I can’t wait to see what happens next.
    Bailout and Failure of the little 3 Automakers?
    Double digit Unemployment?
    Stock Market Collapse?
    Confiscation of our 401K plans and combining them with our Social Security Benefits?
    3rd World Health Care?
    Scandanavian confiscatory taxes?

    For you see, that those responsible, for what “just happened”, are now in charge of “fixing” the problem that they caused.

    Can you say welcome to the 3rd World?
    What other facets of our lives can this government “make better”?

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 6th 2008 @ 2:04 am
  8. This problem is made even more severe because a lot of the jobs that are being lost will not be there even after the economy recovers. A lot of folks are going to have to be retrained and re-oriented toward different careers.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 6th 2008 @ 4:25 pm
  9. Nickel, I commented on that in my blog and for some reason I get a lot more conservatives than you do who don’t want to pay taxes and feel the rich (a class they aren’t a part of) pay too much. Sigh.

    One poster says “Every time some politician or “journalist” throws some dramatic comparison numbers at you, like “the biggest job loss since 1974? BEWARE. Chances are, someone is trying to con you. A job loss of 533,000 out of a labor force of 155+ million + a sizable underground labor force (2008) is very different from a job loss of 533,000 out of a labor force of 92 million. It’s a comparison that makes no sense.”

    So basically we’re not doing as badly as 1974.

    I’ve also gotten that our economic problems are due to illegals taking jobs. And that Americans are no longer blue collar workers.

    I’m hoping since you reach a much larger readership, perhaps you have more workers who consider themselves blue collar and can weigh in.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 9th 2008 @ 3:29 pm
  10. considering the number of illegal aliens have decreased since the housing bubble burst, there is some truth to the notion illegals make up a large portion of labor jobs. i wouldn’t go so far as them being the problem; however, they are a drain on social resources, when they can get medical care, education, use facilities, all the while transferring untaxed income to their home of origin. that’s a separate argument, though, from being the source of the economic problem. the econ problems is squarely based on american overconsumption behavior.

    i’d hardly call $85k/yr detroit factory assembler blue collar anymore since that is double the average salary in the u.s. the notion of blue collar is probably outdated as we are no longer an industrial manufacturing country. i think the blue collar sector has narrowed as total percentage of the work force, but we do in fact make all kinds of stuff, although the main assembly may be abroad.

    the largest problem we will have with unemployment is that most of the work force being laid off is service sector jobs and non-labor jobs. someone has to explain to me how the labor intensive infrastructure stimulus package obama is planning will get all of these folks working. i simply can’t see an office management specialist, a mortgage adjuster, butcher, baker, candlestick maker laboring on construction and paving highways. i can see a huge influx of illegal laborers coming in taking those jobs, though, as they did with the housing construction. we simply have no mass numbers of american laborers. illegals have no fear of being deported or losing the job, because construction sites would shut down. yes, they have mobilized and do threaten, extort, whatever construction companies. construction should be a part of the stimulus package, but not wholly based on it. people need to start asking these questions and pointing out that there is a wide gulf between a labor dependent infrastructure stimulus package and the american work force composition.

    we are not in 1970s or 1930s or 1940s, chiefly because our workforce composition is so very different. the market’s overreaction to the obama proposed stimulus package is just that, an over reaction.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 9th 2008 @ 4:11 pm
  11. LAL: I agree that there are some problems with making absolute comparisons when the total number of individuals involved is not the same.

    It’s kinda like saying that move XYZ is the number one movie of all time because it took in $XX million. Sure, but movie tickets cost a lot more than they used to, so there’s an inherent bias toward more recent movies. A better metric would be how many tickets were sold. In that light, a better metric for unemployment would be the proportion of people that lost their jobs in November vs. past years, as opposed to the absolute number.

    Comment by Nickel — Dec 9th 2008 @ 5:01 pm
  12. Someone brought this opinion article to my attention earlier this week. The total labor force is higher these days in large part to more women in the work force. I believe that the job creation package Obama has proposed needs to address this, although I don’t agree with the solution proposed in the below article. I think the areas he has targeted for new jobs make sense, but that the retraining efforts that will be underway should be encouraged to include women.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 11th 2008 @ 11:43 am

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