What a Recession Looks Like

The normally dry Labor Department is adding increasing amounts of color to its payroll reports. Today’s begins:

Nonfarm payroll employment fell by 240,000 in October, and the unemployment rate

rose from 6.1 to 6.5 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department

of Labor reported today. October’s drop in payroll employment followed declines of

127,000 in August and 284,000 in September, as revised. Employment has fallen by

1.2 million in the first 10 months of 2008; over half of the decrease has occurred

in the past 3 months.

There’s no good news here. October was gruesome, and so was September — much more so than originally reported a month ago. But to really see what a recession looks like, turn to Jake at Econompic Data, who puts it all in pictures, like this one:


The unemployment rate among adult men is now 50% higher than it was a year ago — and, as Paul Krugman says, "it’s now a certainty that unemployment has a lot further to rise". But given how weird the markets have been of late, there’s one silver lining: the report is so relentlessly depressing and worse-than-expected that the stock market has to rise today, right?

Update: Jim Surowiecki finds another silver lining: thanks to the downward revision to September’s numbers, the second derivative of employment is now positive!

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