Nonfarm payrolls in the US fell for the 13th straight month, as another 598,000 jobs were lost in January. The job losses, the greatest in 35 years, signal an ongoing weakening labor market, as 3.0 million jobs were lost in all of 2008. That’s the most since 1945, when the US economy began demobilizing following the end of WWII. The decline has been fast and fierce, with payrolls falling by 3.6 million since the beginning of the recession. About half of the losses have come in the last three months.

The report is worse than anticipated, since economists were expecting 525,000 job losses for January. To give it some perspective, payrolls have fallen by more than 500,000 in a month only six times in the last 58 years. For three consecutive months we have eclipsed that number.

The unemployment rate surged in January, gaining 0.4 percentage points, to a 7.6% annual rate. That’s the highest level in 17 years. Its meteoric rise of 2.7% in the past few months accounts for most of the gain since the beginning of the recession.

Job losses were deep and widespread across most industries, according to the survey of work sites. Only 25% of the 271 industries were hiring.

Via MarketWatch:

The goods-producing industries lost 319,000 jobs, the most since 1975. Manufacturing payrolls fell by 207,000, the most since 1982. Manufacturing employment has fallen by 1.1 million since the recession began in December 2007. Of 83 manufacturing industries, just 8% were hiring in January, the lowest percentage on record dating back to 1991.

Total hours worked in manufacturing fell 2.1% in January.

Construction employment fell by 111,000 in January and was down 781,000 since the recession began.

Services-producing industries cut employment by 279,000 in January, including 76,000 temporary jobs, 45,000 in retail, 44,000 in transportation, and 42,000 in financials.

However, health care added 19,000 jobs.

Of those working, their hours have been cut to record levels:

Total hours worked in the economy fell 1.1%, with the average workweek falling to the shortest ever [33.3 hours].

As stated before, in all of 2008, US payroll employment has fallen by 3.0 million, 400,000 more than previously estimated. And that number doesn’t even include discouraged workers or workers forced to take part-time jobs, which was also widespread. Just to give you an idea:

The number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (sometimes
referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in
January at 7.8 million; however, this measure was up by 3.1 million over the
past 12 months.

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