Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Largest Absolute Drop in Private Employment Since the US Started Keeping Records

A commenter at Steve Benen’s Washington Monthly blog was grousing (correctly, as spencer notes in comments) that Benen had allocated all of the 2009 change (read:drop) in private-sector jobs to Obama, while GWB was in office for the first 19.5 daysduring the time the employment data for January was gathered.

Turns out that there were 841,000 private-sector jobs lost in January of 2009—the most in any month in the 2000s—so it might have made a difference.*

I assumed that, since the population continually increases, that was probably the largest monthly job loss since the data was first recorded in January of 1939.

I was wrong. By a wide margin. The Top 30 single-month drops in U.S. Private Sector employment history since February of 1939:

The highlighted months are since the beginning of NBER’s declaration of the Great Recession. But it appears that V-J Day also signalled an end to employment for more than 1.75 million people.

*Note, by the way, that November and December of 2008 are also in the Top Ten, so calling the January, 2009, layoffs part of the normal post-Xmas letdown appears dubious.

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