The United States government announced that employers cut another 651,000 jobs last month, driving unemployment up to 8.1 percent. Job losses in December and January were even higher than previously reported.
The pain is being felt well beyond the United States.
In Asia, in China, the urban unemployment rate officially stands at 4.2 percent. However, the Chinese Academy of Social Scientists says it is closer to 9.4 percent. In China, rural unemployment is not measured because of the difficulty of doing so.
Also in Asia, in Japan, unemployment hit 4.4 percent by the end of 2008, rising at its fastest rate in 42 years. Growing lines at food banks have been one result.
In India, unemployment officially stands at 8.2 percent. However, that number is thought to largely reflect unemployment in the organized sector of the economy, which comprises just 10 percent of the country’s workforce.
In Africa, in South Africa, economists expressed “surprise” as the unemployment rate fell to 21.9 percent at the end of last year, down from 23.2 percent several months earlier.
In Europe, unemployment in Germany stands at 8.5 percent, and in Britain, it is 6.1 percent, the highest in ten years.
In Latin America, Mexico’s unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. However, anyone in Mexico who is 14 years or older and who has worked one hour a week is considered “employed.”
Telis Demos, a reporter with Fortune magazine, joins Martin Savidge to discuss global unemployment, the German auto industry, China’s role in the global economy and when the downward spiral might end.