This just in, via the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The country moved into its second year of uninterrupted job losses last month, with companies shedding another 598,000 jobs and the unemployment rate moving up to 7.6 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday.


Although the United States officially slipped into a recession in December 2007, the decline was erratic and temporarily disguised by the impact of the emergency tax rebate last spring. But since September, analysts say, economic activity has plunged on almost every front. Consumer spending started to decline in the summer, an extremely rare event in the United States, even in recession, and by September, almost every economic indicator had fallen sharply.

For the last several months, analysts said, the United States has increasingly been trapped in a vicious circle of slumping consumer demand, falling business investment, mounting losses in the banking system, and rising unemployment, which was 7.2 percent in December.


Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland, estimated that if the labor force participation rate today was as high as it was when President Bush took office, the unemployment rate would be 9.4 percent.

--Jonathan Cohn