Worst month since December 1974 brings total this year to 1.9 million
WASHINGTON - Skittish employers slashed 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years, catapulting the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent, dramatic proof the country is careening deeper into recession.
The new figures, released by the Labor Department Friday, showed the crucial employment market deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid clip, and handed Americans some more grim news right before the holidays.
As companies throttled back hiring, the unemployment rate bolted from 6.5 percent in October to 6.7 percent last month, a 15-year high.
"These numbers are shocking," said economist Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics Advisors. "Companies are sharply reacting to the economy's problems and slashing costs. They are not trying to ride it out."
The unemployment rate would have moved even higher if not for the exodus of 422,000 people from the work force. Economists thought many of those people probably abandoned their job searches out of sheer frustration. In November 2007, the jobless rate was at 4.7 percent.
"I'm worried about our workers who have lost jobs during this downturn," President George W. Bush said in a statement.
He said his administration was working to stabilize markets, in particular the credit markets where tight lending has added to the economy's woes.
"A market that was frozen is thawing," he said.
The U.S. tipped into recession last December, a panel of experts declared earlier this week, confirming what many Americans already thought.
Since the start of the recession, the economy has lost 1.9 million jobs, the number of unemployed people increased by 2.7 million and the jobless rate rose by 1.7 percentage points.
President-elect Barack Obama said the dismal job news underscored the need for forceful action, even as he warned that the pain could not be quickly relieved.
Economy shed 533,000 jobs in Nov. - Stocks & economy- msnbc.com