Payrolls shrink by 533,000, bringing 11-month decline to 1.9 million. Unemployment soars to 6.7%
By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Last Updated: December 5, 2008: 9:15 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The economy shed 533,000 jobs in November, according to a government report Friday - bringing the year's total job losses to 1.9 million.
November had the largest monthly job loss total since December 1974.
According to the Labor Department's monthly jobs report, the unemployment rate rose to 6.7% from 6.5% in October. Though lower than economists' forecast of 6.8%, it was the highest unemployment rate since October 1993.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 325,000 jobs in the month. November's monthly job loss total was greater than October's revised loss of 320,000. Payroll cuts in September were revised up to 403,000.
The revisios brought the 3-month job loss total to 1.3 million. That's equal to two-thirds of this year's total job losses and the third highest three-month job loss total since World War II.
November's report provided the first glimpse at how employers reacted after the peak of the credit crisis, reached in mid-October. With credit largely unavailable and expensive, consumers scaled back their spending, dragging down manufacturing and construction businesses.
Travel has also been trimmed, with would-be vacationers opting to stay close to home.
Accordingly, job losses were spread across a wide variety of industries. Manufacturing lost 85,000 jobs, the leisure and hospitality industries cut 76,000 jobs, and construction employment shrank further by 82,000 jobs.
In a bad sign for the ongoing holiday shopping season, retailers slashed payrolls by 91,300 workers last month.
Professional and business services, a category seen by some economists as a proxy for overall economic activity, had a 136,000-job drop in employment. And financial services jobs fell by 32,000.
The just-under 1.9 million jobs lost in the current recession, which began in December 2007, surpasses the 1.6 million jobs lost in the 2001 recession. That's noteworthy, because jobs were cut in droves in 2001 during the dot.com bust, which followed a white-hot employment market during the tech boom of the late 1990s. The job market expansion leading out of the previous recession was much more drawn-out and tepid.
Deeper cuts likely to come
With the economy in a recession and most economic indicators signaling even more difficult times ahead, economists say job losses will likely deepen and continue through at least the first half of 2009.
Citing weak economic conditions, a slew of large-scale job-cut announcements came this week. On Thursday alone, AT&T (T, Fortune 500), DuPont (DD, Fortune 500), Viacom (VIA), Credit Suisse (CS) and Avis (CAR, Fortune 500) issued statements that totaled nearly 23,000 jobs lost, most of which will take place over the next several months.
According to a report by outsourcing agency Challenger, Gray & Christmas, planned job cut announcements by U.S. employers soared to 181,671 last month, the second-highest total on record.
Temporary employment, including workers employed by temp agencies, fell by 100,700 jobs last month, the highest on records that go back to 1985. That could mean even more full-time payroll reductions to come, as employers often cut temporary workers before they begin cutting permanent staff.
In another sign of weakness, a growing number of workers were unable to find jobs with the amount of hours they want to work. Those working part-time jobs - because they couldn't find full-time work, or their hours had been cut back due to slack conditions - jumped by 621,000 people to 7.3 million, the highest ever on records that date back to 1955.
The so-called under-employment rate, which counts those part-time workers, as well as those without jobs who have become discouraged and stopped looking for work, soared to 12.5% from from 11.8%, setting the all-time high for that measure since calculations for it began in January 1994.
But some industries were hiring last month. Government hiring has stayed strong throughout the downturn, adding another 7,000 jobs in November. Education and health services also grew payrolls, which grew by 52,000 employees.
The average hourly work week fell to 33.5 hours last month. Economists expected the workweek to hold at October's level of 33.6 hours. But with a modest 7-cent gain in the average hourly salary, the average weekly paycheck rose by 52 cents to $613.05.
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