Job losses mount across all sectors
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Kai Ryssdal: I try not to do this too often, but I’m going to have to throw a whole slew of numbers at you right here as we get going, because context is important when you’re dealing with unemployment and recessions. The economy lost 533,000 jobs last month. That’s the most since 1974. And the unemployment rate of 6.7 percent is the highest since 1993. Needless to say, the report was worse than anybody thought, and they were thinking some pretty bad things. From New York, Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson gets us started.
Jeremy Hobson: The employment number is widely viewed as the most important economic indicator released on a regular basis. It affects so many other things — growth, personal income and industrial production. November’s job losses almost guarantee that the nation will have shed two million jobs this year.
John Silvia: We’re in a prolonged recession. Began officially over a year ago but I think we’re in the depths of the recession now.
That’s John Silvia, Wachovia’s Chief Economist. He says some of the job cuts are coming from companies looking ahead to a bleak 2009.
Silvia: I think there are some pre-emptive cuts in terms of firms trying to cut employment prior to the end of the year so they can start the new year with a tighter ship.
He says the cuts are coming from all sectors of the economy. Andrew Sum directs the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.
Andrew Sum: There are very few sectors left that are adding anything or holding their own.
He says the possibility of a multiplying effect is becoming a reality. All those jobless Americans will spend less, leading to more layoffs and on and on. He says even people who haven’t lost their jobs are fueling the fire.
Sum: We’ll continue to be more pessimistic about the outlook and continue to cutback spending which will only make this situation get worse until somebody feels that there’s a turnaround coming soon.
Hobson: And do you feel that that’s coming anytime soon?
Sum says expect payroll declines for at least the next three months. And keep in mind, this week’s cuts at AT&T, DuPont and Viacom — more than 19,000 jobs in all — aren’t even counted in today’s report.
In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.
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