Job losses: 3.6 million high and rising

How's this for stimulus public relations? Unemployment hits 7.6 percent, worst mark since 1992.

By Andrew Leonard

Published February 6, 2009 2:03PM (EST)

The plain facts need little elaboration:

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply in January (-598,000) and the unem-ployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Payroll employment has declined by 3.6 million since the start of the recession in December 2007; about one-half of this decline occurred in the past 3 months. In January, job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major industry sectors.

Numerically speaking, the 598,000 employment drop is the worst since 1974. The pace at which the U.S. economy is contracting appears to be accelerating.

UPDATE: In the first fifteen minutes of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the Dow rose over 100 points -- because, speculated the Wall Street Journal, traders were betting that "the grim jobs report would hasten the passage of the stimulus package."


Andrew Leonard

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

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