Job Losses Escalated in February

Preliminary economic reports for February, released yesterday from Bloomberg, hint that it’s not just bad, it’s getting worse. This is not exactly surprising, but it’s worth looking at the numbers:

Employers cut payrolls by 650,000, the most since 1949, and the jobless rate probably surged to 7.9 percent, according to the median estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

The economy lost 598,000 jobs in January, bringing the total drop in employment since the recession began in December 2007 to 3.6 million, the most of any downturn since 1945.

The jobless rate probably climbed from 7.6 percent in January, to reach the highest level in 25 years, according to the survey.

Bloomberg also polled economists, who predicted consumer spending would “contract” for the first two quarters of 2009, which it also did in the last two quarters of 2008. This is unprecedented: since records began in 1947, this has never happened.

The official word’s out Friday, so stay tuned.