Friday, February 6, 2009

Unemployment rate is up to 7.6%

Again, are these numbers that we can do NOTHING about?

The nation's unemployment rate rose to a higher-than-expected 7.6 percent in January as businesses shed 598,000 jobs, government data showed on Friday.

Worn down by a drawn-out recession, cost-cutting employers are laying off workers at an alarming clip and there's no end in sight.

Employers are slashing payrolls and turning to other ways to cut costs — including trimming workers' hours, freezing wages or cutting pay — to cope with shrinking appetites from customers in the United States and in other countries, which are struggling with their own economic troubles.

An avalanche of layoffs is slamming the nation from a wide swath of employers.

Caterpillar Inc., Pfizer Inc., Microsoft Corp., Estee Lauder Cos., Time Warner Cable Inc., and Sprint Nextel Corp. are among the companies slicing payrolls. Manufacturers — especially car makers — construction companies and retailers have been particularly hard hit by the recession. Talbots Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc., Macy's Inc. and Home Depot Inc. are all cutting jobs. So are Detroit's General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

Americans cut back sharply on spending at the end of last year, thrusting the economy into its worst backslide in a quarter-century. The tailspin could well accelerate in the current January-to-March quarter to a rate of 5 percent or more as the recession drags on into a second year and consumers and businesses burrow deeper under all the economy's negative forces.

Vanishing jobs and evaporating wealth from tanking home values, 401(k)s and other investments have forced consumers to retrench. And, in turn, companies are pulling back. It's a vicious cycle where all the economy's problems feed on each other, perpetuating a downward economic spiral.


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