MORE: How Bad Is It?

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A number of Swampland commenters in the post below note that that really ugly chart does not take into account the fact that the country’s population is bigger than it used to be–and, therefore, wonder whether job losses of this size aren’t as significant as the raw numbers would suggest. Justin Fox pondered the same thing, particularly with respect to the comparisons that are being drawn to the recession of 1974, and made some calculations:

1) January’s 0.44% drop in nonfarm payroll employment was the worst one-month drop since May 1980, when employment fell 0.47%. (There was also a 0.44% drop in November 2008, but that was rounded up from 0.438% while January’s was rounded down from 0.442%.)

2) The three-month fall in employment of 1.30% was the worst since the 1.71% drop from Dec. 1974 to Feb. 1975.

3) The six-month fall in employment of 1.93% was the worst since the 2.09% drop from Dec. 1974 to April 1975.

4) The nine-month fall in employment of 2.23% was the worst since the 2.36% drop from Oct. 1974 to July 1975.

5) The twelve-month fall in employment of 2.53% was the worst since the 2.62% drop in the 12 months ending in November 1982.

The lesson here: Maybe I should stop wasting my time playing with spreadsheets. As measured by the percentage drop in payroll employment over most of the time periods I looked at, this is the worst since 1974-1975. And barring a dramatic recovery in the next couple of months, the total job losses from this recession will likely come out even worse than those of 1974-1975.