Half a million jobs -- gone

All major U.S. industrial sectors report heavy job losses for November. So maybe, after all, it wouldn't be a good idea to let domestic automakers crumple.

Published December 5, 2008 2:23PM (EST)

Economists were anticipating a bad jobs report for November, but the new numbers, by any standard, are shocking. The Department of Labor reported that non-farm payrolls in the U.S. declined by 533,000 in November.

That would make 1.2 million jobs lost in the U.S. in the last three months alone. The unemployment rate is now 6.7 percent.

Can you see the recession now, Peggy?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics can't sugarcoat it:

November's drop in payroll employment followed declines of 403,000 in September and 320,000 in October, as revised. Job losses were large and widespread across the major industry sectors in November.

The Wall Street Journal notes, alarmingly, that even service sector jobs are getting annihilated.

In a particularly worrying sign, service-sector employment plunged 370,000. Labor-intensive services make up the vast majority of employment and usually cushion downturns. Yet business and professional services companies shed 136,000 jobs -- the 10th drop in 11 months -- and financial-sector payrolls were down 32,000.

The numbers may compel me to revise my position on an automaker bailout, yet again. Right now, keeping our major industries afloat, at least through the next few months, may be critical, no matter how much money it takes.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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