From the December 2008 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

December 1, 2008

Down, But Not Down and Out

The Securities Industry

This industry continues to fare pretty well relative to many others, losing just under 3,000 jobs for the month; albeit against downwardly revised numbers for October and September. Job losses for the year are down just over 12,000 from January and are down 27,000 from the peak employment month of June.

The Insurance Industry

If we can call the addition of 1,500 new jobs a bright spot, then this industry was a bright spot for November. Joining a short list of industries actually adding jobs during the month, direct life and health insurance companies have continued to lead hiring by adding to field level insurance producers in the financial services area.

The Banking Industry

This sector has been the hardest hit this year and November was no exception; job losses in the broad Banking sector have exceeded 70,000 this year, with last month adding 20,000 to that total.

Citigroup announces a cut of 50,000 jobs; bank failures continue to make the news and at this point there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

Overall

The Labor Department reported the worst job loss since 1974 in their employment report for November. U.S. non-farm payrolls plummeted by 533,000 which was much deeper than the 350,000 predicted by economists and which marked only the fourth time in 58 years that payrolls have fallen by more than 500,000 in just one month. Unemployment is now at 6.7 percent; the highest rate since 1993.

The big losers for the month were the services industries where over 370,000 jobs were lost, with the broad financial services sector losing 34,000 of that total.

The National Bureau of Economic Research made it official on December 1, by declaring that the U.S. economy had been in recession since December of '07; something that most of the unemployed millions already knew.

-- Jeff Testerman, Vice President, Sales, BrokerHunter.com

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More to Come!?!

Cuts have been happening across the industry. Some jobs are being lost to mergers and bankruptcies, others to shrinking profits.

Some experts say that more than 110,000 jobs have been cut so far this year, and a few have gone so far as to predict that as many as 200,000 may be lost before the year is over.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association has announced that some 853,000 people were employed by their members as of early September 2008, including those at securities firms, brokerages, stock exchanges and banks.

But John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, anticipates that layoffs will jump before year-end. The outplacement firm is compiling the cuts online at:

www.challengergray.com/press/Financial%20Cuts%20Breakdown.pdf

Bad New, Good News

The bad news is that job cuts in the financial sector in 2008 are on track to match those of 2007 at about 150,000.

The good news is that Wall Street firms account for "only" 84,540 of the losses, with most of the rest taking place in the broader mortgage and sub-prime categories.

Taking SIFMA's September figure of 853,000 and reducing it by about 85,000 puts the industry at 768,000. Such a "worst-case" scenario still leaves the securities industry above its 2003 level of 755,000.

If the securities sector itself were to fall by 150,000 to 703,000, that would still put it ahead of its 1997 employment level of 660,000 and near its 1998 level of 711,000.

According to SIFMA data, the industry stood at about 500,000 workers in 1992-1993 - a scenario that even the most bearish experts do not seem to be expecting ... yet.

-- Janet Levaux, managing editor of Research; jlevaux@researchmag.com.

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