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The Unemployment News in Context

Despite the ugly headline numbers, there were at least a couple of rays of hope in other details of this morning's jobs report. Here is Ian Shepherdson from High Frequency Economics:

...the government component fell a hefty 53,000, so private payrolls were down 210,000, not statistically different from August’s -182,000 but better than previous months.

The fact that government employment fell -- largely because of declines on state and local levels -- isn't exactly good news, but it also suggests that the chances of a W-shaped recovery haven't increased.

And this chart from Calculated Risk shows an indicator of how widespread job losses are across industries (the blue line is for all industries while the red is for the manufacturing sector). A reading above 50 means industries are adding jobs while below 50 means payrolls are being shrunk:

Though it retreated a bit last month, the blue line is up significantly from its trough earlier this year and has generally been creeping up toward the lows of the two previous recessions. So perhaps we're entering a more "normal" phase of the jobless recovery. Unfortunately, if the last two expansions are a guide, a more normal phase could mean it'll take at least one year, if not two, to get back to job growth.