Politicians and economists agree, its only going to get worse.
The nations jobless ranks zoomed past 10 million last month, the most in a quarter century, us piles of pink slips shut factory gates and office doors to 240,000 more. Americans with the holidays nearing, politicians and economists agreed on a painful bottom line.
The unemployment rate soared to 14 year high of 6.5 percent, the government said Friday, up from 6.1 percent just a month earlier. And there was more grim news from U.S. auto makers; Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. American giants; struggling to survive, each reported big losses and figured to be announcing even more jobs cuts before long.
Barack Obama, in his first news conference as president-elect, said the nation was facing the economic challenge of a lifetime but expressed confidence he could deal with it. “immediately after I become president. “I’m going to confront the economic crisis head on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity,” he said after the meeting with the economic adviser in Chicago. “I’m confident a new president can have an enormous impact.”
Wall Street revived somewhat after two days of big losses. The Dow Jones Industrials rose 248 points. Still, the Labor Departments unemployment report provided stark evidence that the economy’s health was deteriorating at an alarming rapid pace. The jobless rate was 4.8 percent just one year ago.
About 10.1 million people were unemployed in October, the most since the fall of 1983. More people have jobs now, since the population has grown, but its still a staggering jobless figure. With employers slashing jobs every month so far this year, some 1.2 million positions have disappeared, over half in the past three months alone.
Like Obama, president Bush expressed confidence that things would get better. “Our economy has overcome great challenges before, and we can do this again.”
But economists were much upbeat than the politicians. “there no light at the end of the tunnel, and the outlook is pitch black,” said Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research. And Bernard Baumohl, Chief Global Economist at the Economic Outlook Group, said the report “depicts an economy still in free fall and without a safety net anywhere in sight.”
All the economy’s woes- a housing collapse, mounting foreclosures, hard to get credit and financial market upheaval- will confront Obama when he assumes office in January. Unemployment is expected to keep rising during his first year in office, crimp his domestic agenda.
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