Friday, March 6, 2009

They don't call it the dismal science for nothing

How bad are the February 2009 job numbers? Dismal doesn't begin to describe them. We're fast running out of negative records to break.

Consider the losses in non-farm payrolls.
  • 2.0 million jobs lost in the last three months--the worst since the demobilization from World War II in 1945;
  • 4.2 million jobs lost in the last 12 months--the biggest loss ever recorded;
  • 1.5 percent of jobs lost in three months--the worst quarterly loss since February 1975, and
  • 3.0 percent of jobs lost in the last 12 months--the worst since August 1958.
The news isn't any brighter when we look at the household employment status numbers.
  • a 3.1 percent decrease in the level of household employment--the worst decline ever recorded;
  • an employment to population percentage of 60.3 percent--the lowest in 20 years;
  • a continuation of the annual decline in the employment-to-population ratio at 3.8 percent--the worst since 1975;
  • unemployment at 8.1 percent--the highest in 25 years (December 1983), and
  • a 3.7 percentage point increase in unemployment--the biggest jump in 33 years (May 1975).
Will the last employee out the door please turn out the lights?