The U.S. economy lost 533,000 jobs in November, far more than anticipated. It was the worst jobs report in 34 years, evidence of a deepening economic recession.
In the past year the once vibrant U.S. economy has shed nearly two million jobs. Markets Friday had been anticipating far fewer job losses and stock prices initially fell sharply as the bad news was absorbed.
Ellen Zentner, an economist at Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank in New York told Bloomberg Television that there will be further job losses ahead. Unemployment could soar, she said, if one of the Detroit big three car companies goes under.
"You've got suppliers who supply that industry who would have to lay off workers. You've got the dry cleaners who supply the people that work at the supply shops. It goes on down the line. You'd be talking about massive job losses. And that's why the government has been serious about talking about what help they can give," she said.
An estimated three million U.S. jobs are directly linked to the U.S.-based auto industry.
For a second day, the chiefs of the three car companies and their union appeared before congressional committees to make their case for $34 billion of emergency loans to assure their survival until April. Congressman Paul Kanjorski, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is not optimistic that the loans will be quickly forthcoming.
"I tell you this; I do not sense that the congress has the appetite to do this right now. I think you're skating on extremely thin ice. And I happen to be a friend of your industry," he said.
For whatever reason, stock markets turned around late in the day and the Dow Jones Industrials staged an impressive rally near the close. The index was up 259 points, or three percent, to 8,635. But Tony Dwyer of FTN Midwest Securities in Cleveland, Ohio says global financial markets remain essentially frozen. "We need people to come and buy corporate bonds. When they do that companies will be able to raise money and fund future growth," he said.
Oil prices continued to fall, declining Friday to little more than $40 per barrel. The $2.85 loss brought losses for the week to 25 percent. Crude oil is now at its lowest level since December 2004. The week's massive sell off was even bigger than the seven day, 24 percent decline in 2003 after invading U.S. troops seized control of the Iraqi oil fields. Oil prices are falling because of the sudden collapse of global demand for gasoline