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U.S. Government: Whoops We Missed 800,000 Laid Off Workers

by @ 9:06 am on February 4, 2010. Filed under Credit Crisis, Economics

Tomorrow, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will announce that job losses over the past year were 800,000 people higher than originally reported:

NEW YORK ( — As bad as the government’s jobs readings numbers have been during the Great Recession, we’ll soon find out the real situation likely was worse.

Job losses during the recession may have been underestimated by close to a million jobs. So instead of employers cutting just over 7 million jobs from their payrolls since the economic downturn began in December 2007, it’s expected that the Labor Department’s new estimate will be a loss of 8 million jobs.

“It’s an enormous understatement of the severity of the crisis,” said Heidi Shierholz, labor economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a union-supported think tank. “It confirms that things were actually worse on the ground than what the reports suggested.”

The new reading will come when the economists at the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics release their annual revision of U.S. payrolls from April 2008 through March of 2009 Friday, using data that wasn’t available as the monthly readings were being estimated and reported.

Typically the revision results in only a slight change in the previous estimate — about 0.1% to 0.2% of the total number of jobs. But there was nothing typical about the twelve month stretch that ended last March.


The government’s current readings show that 4.8 million jobs were lost in those twelve months, more than twice the jobs lost during any comparable April-March period going back to 1939, when the numbers first started to be compiled.

But the department has already given a preliminary look at this Friday’s revision, and it says it believes it will show 824,000 fewer workers on payrolls than the current estimates. That would be the biggest downward revision in the 30 years for which comparisons of those adjustments is possible.

In other news, there was another “unexpected” jump in first-time jobless claims:

WASHINGTON — The number of newly laid-off workers filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week, evidence that layoffs are continuing and jobs remain scarce.

The rise is the fourth in the past five weeks. Most economists hoped that claims would resume a downward trend that was evident in the fall and early winter.


The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, rose for the third straight week to 468,750.

The figure is the highest in the past two months. Initial claims dropped sharply in late December, raising hopes among economists that layoffs were nearing an end and the economy would soon start generating net gains in jobs.

The figures come a day before the Labor Department is scheduled to report the January employment figures, which are expected to show a tiny gain in jobs. The unemployment rate is forecast to rise to 10.1 percent

Anyone really think the recession is over ?

3 Responses to “U.S. Government: Whoops We Missed 800,000 Laid Off Workers”

  1. NotTimothyGeithner says:

    When are we going to start calling it a depression?

  2. tfr says:

    Nope, not over. Just by comparing this recession to previous, I predicted unemployment to peak late this year or early next. So far we’re on track…

  3. [...] In Unexpected But Yet Related News: Job losses where higher than what was previously thought. Because the same people who thought the stimulus would work, thought that employment would rise too. [...]

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