The official monthly employment numbers released this morning, while somewhat less bad than those of the past few months, didn’t offer much in the way of succor. Nonfarm payrolls dropped by 539,000, seasonally adjusted, the unemployment rate rose to 8.9%, and both would have been worse but for a hiring binge at the Census Bureau (because, you know, we’ve got a census coming up) that accounted for much of the 72,000 increase in government jobs. Anybody else hiring? Well, “ambulatory health services,” up 17,700. Otherwise it’s still across-the-board declines in most every sector.
Basically, the report offers a little bit of backing for the “job market is turning” story that some other more timely but less reliable indicators have been hinting at, but not much. These numbers will be revised over the next couple of months as more data come in, and by then they may tell a somewhat different story. One thing that the revisions won’t change: This employment downturn is now clearly much, much worse than those of 1981-1982 and 1973-1974. I’ll put together my usual Great Depression comparison charts later, but I’m kind of swamped at the moment so it might not be today.