U.S. Job Losses Steepest Since December 1974

 
 
By Reuters -  |  Posted 2008-12-05 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

U.S. job losses in November were the steepest since December 1974, when 602,000 jobs were shed, and were much worse than the consensus on Wall Street for a 340,000 reduction.

In addition, job losses in recent months turned out to be worse than previously reported. October's loss was revised to show a cut of 320,000, originally given as a 240,000 loss, while September's drop was revised to 403,000 from 284,000.

That meant 199,000 more jobs were lost in September and October than previously thought and the total reduction in U.S. nonfarm payrolls for the last three months was 1.256 million, with almost 2 million shed in the year so far.

"It's just a disaster," said Stephen Stanley, chief U.S. economist at RBS Greenwich in Greenwich, Conn.

Service-providing businesses alone shed 370,000 jobs in November, or two-thirds of the overall job declines, following a loss of 153,000 jobs the month before.

That meant labor market weakness has now shifted over from the goods-producing sectors of the economy to the far more important services sector, which delivers almost 80 percent of U.S. output.

Employment in manufacturing dropped by 85,000, while construction payrolls shrank by 82,000 jobs. Construction employment has declined for 17 straight months, and factory jobs have declined 29 straight months.

The length of the workweek slipped to 33.5 hours, the shortest since records began in 1964, a Labor Department official said. The drop in the workweek could point to further job losses ahead as business cut back sharply on production.

(Written by Alister Bull; editing by Neil Stempleman)

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