Overall Job Market
The month of December was, of course, anything but jolly for another 524,000 workers, who lost their job - capping a year that saw nearly 2.6 million workers displaced. Notably, three-quarters of these job losses occurred in just the last four months of 2008 - September through December. The employment market in 2008 was the worst since just after World War II with the transition from the wartime economy. Unemployment rose to 7.2 percent; after beginning the year at 4.9 percent.
This report was worse than the consensus of economists whose expectation was in the 500,000 range, and the burning question that remains is: Where is the bottom?
Once again, we continue to be amazed at the relative strength in this sector. December's job loss was "only" 1,700 jobs bringing total employment to 842,600 workers. While 2008 saw a contraction of 12,700 jobs or about 1.5 percent; we can't help but believe that it could have been much worse. Job loss during this pull back is, so far, less steep and less severe than the post-9/11 decline, which ultimately saw nearly 90,000 securities industry people out of work.
December saw another 5,700 jobs lost in the sector, which was a respite after the carnage of the previous four months, in which, nearly 100,000 people lost their jobs in banking, which includes the mortgage industry. Job losses for the year stand at 75,000 which is 1.23 percent of the total sector of over 6 million workers.
4,700 jobs were lost in insurance in December, as the sector gives up a little ground during the final month of the year. Last year, though, was relatively good for insurance employment as jobs were added during the year, albeit a modest increase of about a quarter of a percent. Nevertheless, these results are enough to rank this industry among the few non-farm industries to actually grow for the year.
We don't know what 2009 will bring for the financial-services sector, but early indications of employer activity in encouraging with a perceptible pickup in job postings and searches versus the last quarter of '08.
Jeff Testerman is vice president of sales for BrokerHunter.com, based near Atlanta; reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.