US job losses hit 34-year high

President says US is in recession as unemployment rises to 6.7 per cent.

us jobs queue losses
The job losses are the worst in decades [GALLO/GETTY]

Previously the US president and the White House had not called the current US economic crisis a recession.

This is despite a report by one private research group earlier this week which said the country was already a recession – normally defined as when a nation’s gross domestic product, or GDP, shrinks for two financial quarters.

Bush expressed deep concern for Americans who have lost jobs, but also said there are some encouraging signs about the credit crisis.

“There is still more work to do,” he said. “My administration is committed to ensuring that our economy succeeds.”

He also warned that US Congress must “act next week” over aid to ailing car makers – currently appealing to Congress for a second day for a $34 billion bailout package to revive their industry – but said the companies must make “hard choices” and prove they can survive.

US stock markets closed higher on Friday, up 287.37 points, or 3.43 per cent to 8,635, amid market hopes that the US president’s remarks on a recession would spark further government action to avert such a severe economic crisis.

However Al Jazeera’s John Terrett in New York says that Bush’s admission, coupled with the news of fresh heavy job losses, will combine to make “a very big psychological blow” for both the US markets and consumers.

‘Urgent’ measures

President-elect Obama said there were no
quick fixes to end the crisis [AFP]

After the figures were released, Barack Obama, the US president-elect, called for “urgent” measures to put people back to work and to stimulate the economy.

“There are not quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better,” he said.

“But now is the time to respond with urgent resolve to put people back to work and get our economy moving again.

“The 533,000 jobs lost last month – the worst job loss in 34 years – is more than a dramatic reflection of the growing economic crisis we face.

“Each of those lost jobs represents a personal crisis for a family somewhere in America.”

Shock statistics

November’s job losses were the steepest since December 1974, when 602,000 jobs were shed.

October’s loss was also 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.

The total reduction in US non-farm payrolls for the past three months was 1.256m, with almost two million lost in 2008 so far.

Service-providing businesses shed 370,000, or two-thirds, of the total number of jobs axed in November, after a loss of 153,000 jobs in October.

The unemployment figures show that the crisis in the labour market has shifted from the goods-producing sectors of the economy to the services sector, which delivers almost 80 per cent of US output.

European markets plunged following the jobless report with the Paris’ CAC 40 index down 5.5 per cent to close at 2,988.01 on Friday while the UK FTSE-100 dropped 2.74 per cent to 4,049.37.

Source: News Agencies