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Nearly 600,000 January job losses push unemployment rate to 7.6

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced its January unemployment figures today, and they continue a trend of accelerating job losses that began in September and picked up steam in November. It’s the third straight month in which over half a million jobs disappeared–and at 598,000, January’s number is the worst yet in the series. “Payroll employment has declined by 3.6 million since the start of the recession in December 2007,” the release notes. “[A]bout one-half of this decline occurred in the past 3 months. In January, job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major industry sectors.”

That brings the official rate to 7.6 percent. The U6 ‘misery index” I wrote about earlier rose nearly two points, from 13.5 to 15.4. (You can see the BLS table here.) As economist Brad DeLong writes, “That’s quickly approaching Depression levels.”

Also worth a look: Calculated Risk’s graph showing employment losses during U.S. recessions since 1960.

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