As had been feared, the U.S. economy lost more than one half million
jobs in December, capping the worst year for job losses since World War
figures show 524,000 people lost their jobs in December. This follows
584,000 job losses in November. The Labor Department report reveals an
economy in free fall with the unemployment rate up nearly one-half
percent to 7.2 percent and rising. The unemployment rate is
at a 16-year high.
"In the third quarter [of the year] we lost 600,000
jobs, in round numbers," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Bank in
Pittsburgh, speaking on Bloomberg Television. "In the fourth quarter we lost 1.6
million jobs, and a near record job decline for the year. And
unfortunately the rate of job decline really just accelerated
dramatically in the last three months."
Obama said the job loss figures show that America is facing a
devastating economic crisis. He repeated his appeal for early
congressional action to approve a multi-hundred billion dollar
government program to stimulate the economy.
For all of 2008 the
U.S. economy lost 2.8 million jobs, this in an economy that
had created millions of new jobs earlier in the decade. The U.S.
economy has been in recession for over one year and the downturn is
accelerating amid projections that economic output is currently
declining at a more than four percent annual rate.
markets were not greatly impacted by the employment report where bad
news had been anticipated. Oil prices were steady at around $40
per as the slowing world economy has brought prices down over 70
percent from their peak back in July. Most stock markets lost ground
in Friday trading.