November 2008 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for November 2008 (based on the job report):

loss of 533,000 jobs in the month
(revised to a loss of 588,000 in the Dec ’08 report, revised to a final loss of 728,000)

  • Most jobs lost in a month since December 1974
    • As a percentage the December 1974 job loss was 0.65% of the workforce
    • As a percentage the November 2008 job loss was 0.34% of the workforce (although still a huge loss, it isn’t quite as dramatic)
    • From a percentage standpoint, it is the steepest loss since 1980
  • Analysts expected a loss between 325,000 and 335,000
  • Eleventh straight months of job losses
  • 1,900,000 jobs lost in 2008
    • 1,550,000 jobs lost in the last six months
    • 1,600,000 total jobs lost in the recession of 2001
  • September revised to loss of 403,000 jobs (revised to a final loss of 458,000)
  • October revised to a loss of 320,000 jobs (revised to a final loss of 554,000)
  • There is an additional 637,000 people not counted in the 533,000 because they stopped looking for work
  • Part time workers – those that can not find a full time job – rose by 621,000
    • 7.3 million people are in this category, 2.8 million added in the past 12 months. 7.3 million is the highest ever for this record, which dates back to 1955

Unemployment rate rose to 6.7

  • Forecasters thought it would rise to 6.8%
  • The unemployment rate hasn’t been this high since 1993
  • 420,000 people left the labor market group in November as well
  • Underemployment is now at 12.5%
    • From 11.8% last month (an increase of 0.7% in one month!)
    • This includes part timers who want full time jobs
  • The long term unemployed (those without a job for 27 weeks or more) remained steady at about 2.2 million people

Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing lost 85,000 jobs
    • 604,000, or about one third of all jobs lost in 2008 are manufacturing jobs
  • Construction lost 82,000 jobs
    • Since peaking in 2006 (housing bubble), construction has lost 780,000 jobs
    • Infrastructure projects would help with this situation as proposed by President-Elect Obama
  • Retailers lost 91,000
    • Retail usually adds jobs for the Christmas season – not this year
  • Professional and Business Services loss 101,000 jobs
    • Since December of 2007, 495,000 jobs are lost in this segment
  • Government sector added 7,000
  • Education and Health Services grew by 52,000 jobs
  • Health Care added 34,000
    • Over the last 12 months, 369,000 jobs were gained
  • Leisure and Hospitality loss 76,000 jobs
    • Since April, 2008, 150,000 jobs are lost in this segment


  • The average weekly paycheck is $613.05
    • A gain of 0.52 cents
  • The average hourly work week stayed the same – 33.5
    • Economists thought it would remain at 33.5
    • Seasonally adjusted, it is the lowest since the record began in 1964
  • The average weekly wages for many Americans has increased by 2.8% over the past 12 months
    • Inflation over the same period is 3%
    • So despite the loss in jobs, wages are holding up, somewhat


  • The economy is expected to get worse and an unemployment rate of at least 8% is expected in mid 2009
  • 8% unemployment was last seen in the early 80s
  • GDP is expected to be a contraction between 4% and 5% for the fourth quarter of 2008
  • GDP for all of 2009 is expected to be a shrinkage of 2%
    • 1982 was the last time things were that bad
  • Revisions of September and October pointed to even worse conditions than the survey estimated. Will November follow suit in subsequent revisions?

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Report Stats Summary
Graphics of the Job Market – December 6th, 2008


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