Unemployment Hits 8.1 Percent
Really bad news on the jobs front:
The nation’s unemployment rate bolted to 8.1 percent in February, the highest since late 1983, as cost-cutting employers slashed 651,000 jobs amid a deepening recession.
Both figures were worse than analysts expected and the Labor Department’s report shows America’s workers being clobbered by a wave of layoffs unlikely to ease in the coming months.
“There is no light at the end of the tunnel with these numbers,” said Nigel Gault, economist at IHS Global Insight. “Job losses were everywhere and there’s no hope for a turnaround any time soon.”
Not much to say to that. A few months ago, when the economic mess was mostly confined to the financial sector, most of the hand-wringing seemed over the top. The stock market and other indicators were bad news, of course, but the core indicators that directly affect most people — interest rates, inflation, and employment — were still excellent.
Now, we’ve got record low interest rates, inflation remains quite low — indeed, there’s talk of deflation on the horizon — but truly worrisome numbers on the jobs front. One hesitates to put much stock in forecasts, given that nobody seems to have any idea what’s going on, but I fear Gault is right.