Overall Job Market
The Labor Department issued a disappointing employment report for December on January 8, showing 85,000 jobs were lost in that month.
Expectations were for a gain in employment; a reasonable expectation given the relatively solid report for November - which was revised even higher in this report. In fact, a revised November outlook showed that payrolls finally rose for the first time in nearly two years.
Non-farm employment has fallen by 7.3 million over the past few years of the recession.
December was a good month for employment in this segment of the financial-services field, with the report showing an increase of 4,300 jobs, bucking the downtrend for most other industries.
This was only the second gain this year and the largest increase in employment since June 2008.
It was encouraging to end a very bad employment year of 2009 on a positive note. Still, 42,000 jobs were lost for the year, and nearly 88,000 over the last 18 months.
This is a steep slide, to say the least - rivaling post-9/11 in numbers. In fact the numbers of jobs lost were nearly identical for the two recessions last decade.
The size of the industry remains flat over the last 10 years, as well. We entered the decade with 767,700 employees, and we ended it with 781,800 - less than 2% growth.
Finance and Insurance
A much better report for December showed the broader sector adding over 20,000 jobs or 22,000 for the last two months of '09.
Even so, the severity of the fall is illustrated by the magnitude of the final figures for the year - 143,200 jobs were lost. Even more dramatic is the fall from the pre-recession employment high water mark of 438,500 jobs.