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A Toughening Market

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The February 2009 employment report indicated that the economy shed another 651,000 jobs, bringing the total to 4.4 million jobs that have now been lost in this recession which began in December 2007.

This was the biggest decline in jobs since 1949; effecting industries across the board with only education and health-related areas reporting gains. Unemployment shot up to over 8%, the highest rate since 1984.

Optimists are clinging to the data that shows the rate of job loss slowing during the last two months, which is leading to hope of improvement for March and beyond, if job-market losses indeed reached their nadir in December.

Securities Industry

Another 6,400 jobs were eliminated in February from the securities-industry group, for a reduction of over 0.75 percent for the month. This brings the total job loss from the peak employment month in June 2008 to over 54,000, or over 6.4 percent.

Finance and Insurance

This broader sector, which includes all finance- and insurance-related employment, lost another 20,000 jobs in February representing a little over 1/3 of 1 percent of the workforce. This sector representing nearly 6 million workers has shed 3.2 percent of its force from June 2008 levels, leaving nearly 200,000 workers unemployed.