US job losses accelerated in Nov, down 533,000

05 December 2008 16:55  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The US lost 533,000 jobs in November - the worst one-month job loss in more than three decades - and the nation’s unemployment rate shot up to 6.7% from 6.5% in October, the Labor Department said on Friday.

The plastics and rubber manufacturing sector was hit particularly hard, according to the department, losing more than 12,000 jobs in November alone. The chemicals sector was less affected but saw about 1,000 positions vacated.

As the year-old recession continued to erode the US job market, the department said the total number of job losses nationwide for the three-month period of September through November reached 1.25m.

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the department said in its report that “the number of unemployed persons increased by 2.7m and the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points”.

“Job losses were large and widespread across the major industry sectors in November,” the department said.

November’s sharp decline in employment took many analysts by surprise. Wall Street had been anticipating a decline of some 300,000 jobs in November, but the figures released on Friday are more than 70% higher than feared.

Job losses continued in the US manufacturing sector, the department noted, with 85,000 workers losing their jobs in component industries.

Included in those losses were 12,400 jobs that disappeared in the plastics and rubber products segment, a decline of 1.7% from October.

The plastics and rubber production sector, which has seen job losses of about 43,000 since November last year, now has a workforce of some 700,000.

In chemicals, job losses were relatively minimal, with about 1,000 jobs being vacated in November compared with October, a decline of 0.1%.

The chemicals industry workforce is at 851,000, according to the department, down by 1.1% to about 9,500 positions since November last year.

Job losses were also reported in other manufacturing sectors - metal fabrication, machinery, wood products and computers - that are important downstream consuming industries for chemicals and plastics, indicating that those production segments are declining further.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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