In an act of gravity-defying levitation, the securities industry added 7,800 jobs recently against heavily revised government statistics for all sectors — including securities and insurance job classifications, explains Jeff Testerman of www.brokerhunter.com. The revisions were part of the annual benchmark process and for the securities industry extended back as far as April of 2006 and increased the employment figures across the board for every month since then. Conversely, the insurance sector was hit with a decline of 12,700 jobs or 0.5% of the total workforce, says Testerman. While detailed breakdowns are not available with this report, it seems likely that the weakness was mostly in the area of “non-life and health.” In other words, property and casualty and housing related insurance areas may have been a major contributor due to the downturn in real estate and new home construction.

Overall, for the first time in over four years, the U.S. labor force lost jobs in January 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the organization’s February 1 report, total non-farm payrolls contracted by a preliminary estimate of 17,000 jobs. Economists had been predicting growth of 85,000 jobs, according to Testerman. The surprising weakness strengthens arguments that we are heading for, or are already in, a recession, he and others note.The Federal Reserve, thought by some to behind the power curve, is struggling to react to the situation with some of the most aggressive rate cutting in history; taking the fed funds rate to 3 percent — and with more cuts becoming likely with each new weak economic report, shares Testerman.