A 16-Year High
Remarkably, 16 years takes us right back to the end of the term of the last President Bush, right before the last Democratic President. What a coincidence:
With the recession in full swing, the nation’s employers shed 524,000 jobs in December, the government reported Friday, and a rapidly deteriorating economy promised more significant losses in the months ahead. December’s job losses brought the total for 2008 to 2.6 million, spanning a recession that started 12 months ago.
The unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent in December from 6.8 percent in November and 5 percent last April, when the recession was four months old and just beginning to bite. More than 11 million Americans are now unemployed, and their growing ranks seem likely to put pressure on President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to act quickly on a stimulus package that mixes tax cuts and public spending.
The 7.2 percent was the highest unemployment rate since January 1993, when the country was still shaking off a jobless recovery from the 1990-91 recession. The loss in total jobs for 2008 was the largest since 1945.
Believe it or not, that 524,000 number was pretty much as expected - it could have been worse.
And unlike January 1993, this isn't going to be the low ebb this time. Even with a massive stimulus, nobody expects job loss to turn around right away, with the unemployment rate expected to climb to 8 or even 9%. Holiday sales were officially in the crapper, and with consumer spending still driving the economy, expect lots and lots of store closings in 2009. That will roil the commercial real estate market, which is on the verge of collapse. In addition to jobs falling, hours worked fell sharply since September, meaning that people are working less.
Barack Obama is stepping into a nightmare.
Maybe we all have to learn something from Pittsburgh.