The Job Hunt: No, you're not imagining it - unemployment gets worse


The news that the unemployment rate hit a 16-year high, to 7.2% in December, and that 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008 -- the most since 1945, is bad news that is only going to get worse as 2009 continues.

Economists think the unemployment rate could hit 9% or 10% at the end of the year.

President-elect Barack Obama's $775 economic stimulus plan may not even be enough, and Obama told the Associated Press that things could get worse.

"If nothing is done, this recession could linger," Obama said. "The unemployment rate could reach double digits."

David A. Levy, chairman of the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, told the New York Times, "Even with a stimulus package, the unemployment rate is going to keep rising and by December it is likely to be over 9%."

According to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 2.6 million jobs lost in 2008, 1.9 million happened in the past four months. That upward trend looks like it's continuing.

The best news in the Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday was that health care employment continued growing in December, by 32,000 jobs for the month, along with 14,000 more jobs in ambulatory services and 12,000 more hospital jobs. In 2008, health care added 372,000 jobs.

At least job growth is happening somewhere. In December, manufacturing fell by 149,000, the largest monthly decline since August 2001. Factory job losses were at 791,000 last year, with nearly half in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job hunt at