Unemployment Hits 7.6%

The jobless rate for December reaches 7.6%, the highest in 16 years. The economy lost nearly 600,000 jobs last month.

“The country moved into its second year of uninterrupted job losses last month, with companies shedding another 598,000 jobs — the most since December 1974 — and the unemployment rate moving up to 7.6 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

“Job losses were once again spread across both manufacturing and service industries, reinforcing the picture of an economy that is contracting at its fastest pace in decades.

“Employers in the United States have shed jobs every month since January 2008, for an aggregate decline in payroll employment of about 3.2 million.

“The Labor Department also revised its numbers from December, saying that the economy lost 577,000 jobs compared with an initial reading of a loss of 524,000.

“Businesses are panicked and fighting for survival and slashing their payrolls,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “I think we’re trapped in a very adverse, self-reinforcing cycle. The downturn is intensifying, and likely to intensify further unless policy makers respond aggressively.”

I think that statement is right. Some centrists in the U.S. Senate are trying to reach a compromise regarding the stimulus bill. A deal could be reached today.

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