The Employment Situation, November 2008
November employment fell by 533,000 in the largest one-month drop since December 1974, coming in far worse than expectations. Additionally, payrolls in September and October were revised down to losses of 403,000 and 320,000, respectively. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, job losses in the United States have totaled about 1.9 million, roughly 1.3 million of which have come in just the past three months. The unemployment rate also continued its upward path, increasing 20 basis points to 6.7 percent, the highest rate seen since September 1993.
The diffusion index of employment change also sank from 37.8 to an unprecedented low of 27.6, meaning that only 27.6 percent of employers are hiring, while the remaining 72.4 percent are cutting jobs.
Job losses were across the board, with the only major areas posting any sort of gain being education and health services (+52,000) and government (+7,000). Goods-producing industries lost a total of 163,000 jobs, and this was spread evenly between construction (−82,000) and manufacturing (−85,000). Within manufacturing, the durable goods category shed almost triple the number of jobs that nondurables shed.
Service-providing industries dropped a massive 370,000 jobs in November, after experiencing downwardly revised losses of 286,000 and 183,000 in September and October. The only other time since the series began in 1939 that service industries lost more jobs was in August 1983. The retail trade sector lost 91,300 jobs, a large part stemming from auto dealers (−24,000). Declines in leisure and hospitality totaled 76,000, and information services lost 19,000. Professional and business services and financial activities each saw record losses (−136,000 and −32,000, respectively). Within professional and business services, the employment services sector alone lost 100,000 jobs.
Labor Market Conditions
|Average monthly change
(thousands of employees, NAICS)
|Heavy and civil engineering||4||3||−1||−7||−12|
|Temporary help services||17||1||−7||−36||−78.2|
|Education and health services||36||39||44||46||52|
|Leisure and hospitality||23||32||29||−14||−76|
|Local educational services||6||6||5||4||−4.2|
|Civilian unemployment rate||5.1||4.6||4.6||5.6||6.7|
a. Includes construction of residential buildings and residential specialty trade contractors.
b. Includes construction of nonresidential buildings and nonresidential specialty trade contractors.
c. Financial activities include the finance, insurance, and real estate sector and the rental and leasing sector.
d. PBS is professional business services (professional, scientific, and technical services, management of companies and enterprises, administrative and support, and waste management and remediation services).
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The three-month moving average of private sector employment growth dropped all the way from −295,000 to −429,000 last month. Private payrolls have seen losses in every month since December 2007, while government payrolls have declined in only one month during that same period.