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Employment figures released today by the Department of Labor show that the economy is reeling and workers are suffering greatly. In November, businesses slashed 533,000 jobs, the largest monthly loss of jobs in 34 years. Unemployment rose to 6.7 percent, the highest level in 15 years. And 200,000 more jobs were lost in September and October than previously estimated. There are now fewer jobs in the economy than there were two years ago, even though the population has increased by 5 million people during that time.
Since December 2007, when the current recession began, the economy has lost nearly 2 million jobs. Most job losses have been quite recent, meaning that the severity of the recession is accelerating. Over 1.2 million jobs have been cut in the past three months, and the economy has now shed jobs for 11 consecutive months. The current recession has already lasted a year, and if it lasts just four months longer—which is likely given its increased severity—the current recession will become the longest recession since the Great Depression.
There were almost no positive signs in the Department of Labor’s figures. Job losses were widespread across almost every industry. Only education and health care and government employment grew, but by just 52,000 and 7,000 respectively. These increases are far less than enough to make up for losses elsewhere—a trend that has been occurring for some time.
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Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project