The staggering figures released Friday on the US labor market demonstrate that what has developed since the Wall Street crash one year ago is not a conjunctural downturn or recession, but an historic assault on working class living standards.
The official unemployment rate for September was 9.8 percent, up from 9.7 percent in August, amid predictions that the jobless rate would pass the 10 percent mark and remain in double digits for at least the next year.
The US Labor Department reported a net loss of 263,000 jobs in September, far more than predicted by government and business economists. Another 571,000 workers dropped out of the labor market entirely, not looking for work during the month because they saw no prospect of finding a job.
Despite the claims of economic recovery, the combined total of 834,000 workers either losing their jobs or giving up the search for work is comparable to the 700,000-plus job losses recorded in January and February.
September marked the 21st consecutive monthly decline in jobs—the longest continuous drop in US employment since the Labor Department began collecting such figures in 1939.
Some 15 million American workers are unemployed, nearly double the number out of work when the recession began at the end of 2007. The average duration of unemployment is 26.2 weeks, more than half a year, the highest figure since the Labor Department began such statistics in 1948. One third of the unemployed, more than five million, have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. This is another Labor Department record.