Today in horrible news: The Labor Department reported today that the United States lost almost 600,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent, its highest level in more than sixteen years. In his interview with Maria Bartiromo this afternoon, Bank of America chairman Ken Lewis echoed the sentiment of many economists when he said he thought it would get to nine. “I would expect the first quarter to be worse than the fourth. And possibly the second as bad. And no improvement, actually, occurring until, you know, the third or fourth quarter.” Consumer credit fell by $6.6 billion, or 3.1 percent at an annual rate, almost twice what economists had previously estimated. General Motors is reportedly readying a plan to fire thousands of salaried employees so that it can keep its federal funding. “This is a horror show we’re watching,” Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, told the Times.
“By every measure available — loss of employment and hours, rise of unemployment, shrinkage of the employment to population rate — this recession is steeper than any recession of the last 40 years, including the harsh recession of the early 1980s.”
Meanwhile, the stimulus bill is still delayed. But they’re now saying they’re going to vote on it tonight! And stocks have climbed on hopes that it will pass soon, so that’s all good news. Right? The Dow closed at 8280.59.