I am new to the industry and have never been affected by a "recession" - should I be nervous about this article? How does everyone else feel?
WASHINGTON – Skittish employers slashed 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years, catapulting the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent, dramatic proof the country is careening deeper into recession.
The new figures, released by the Labor Department Friday, showed the crucial employment market deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid clip, and handed Americans some more grim news right before the holidays.
As companies throttled back hiring, the unemployment rate bolted from 6.5 percent in October to 6.7 percent last month, a 15-year high.
"These numbers are shocking," said economist Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics Advisors. "Companies are sharply reacting to the economy's problems and slashing costs. They are not trying to ride it out."
The unemployment rate would have moved even higher if not for the exodus of 422,000 people from the work force. Economists thought many of those people probably abandoned their job searches out of sheer frustration. In November 2007, the jobless rate was at 4.7 percent.
The U.S. tipped into recession last December, a panel of experts declared earlier this week, confirming what many Americans already thought.
Since the start of the recession, the economy has lost 1.9 million jobs, the number of unemployed people increased by 2.7 million and the jobless rate rose by 1.7 percentage points.
President-elect Barack Obama said the dismal job news underscored the need for forceful action, even as he warned that the pain could not be quickly relieved.
"There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis ... and it's likely to get worse before it gets better," Obama said. "At the same time, this ... provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy to improve the lives of ordinary people by rebuilding roads and modernizing schools for our children, investing in clean energy solutions to break our dependence on imported oil, and making an early down payment on the long-term reforms that will grow and strengthen our economy for all Americans for years to come."
To provide relief, the Bush administration will continue to concentrate on ways to bust through a credit jam that is feeding prominently into the economy's problems, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told The Associated Press in an interview. "We're going to stay focused on that like a laser," he said.
On Wall Street, stocks slid. The Dow Jones industrials were down more than 180 points in morning trading.
Job losses last month were widespread, hitting factories, construction companies, financial firms, retailers, leisure and hospitality, and others industries. The few places where gains were logged included the government, education and health services.
The loss of 533,000 payroll jobs was much deeper than the 320,000 job cuts economists were forecasting. The rise in the unemployment rate, however, wasn't as steep as the 6.8 percent rate they were expecting. Taken together, though, the employment picture clearly darkening.
The job reductions were the most since a whopping 602,000 positions were slashed in December 1974, when the country was in a severe recession.
All told, 10.3 million people were left unemployed as of November, while the number of employed was 144.3 million.