The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the NBER will likely say the recession began in January 2008, when total employment started dropping. However, the net job losses accelerated this September and October likely signaling a steeper rate of decline.
Payrolls declined 240,000 in the October after a revised decline of 284,000 in September. The household survey showed a larger 297,000 decline in October, which, combined with a labor force increase of 306,000, drove the unemployment rate up from 6.1 to 6.5 percent. Total payroll employment has fallen by 1.2 million in the first 10 months of 2008, with over half of the decline in the past three months." We are clearly experiencing a nasty inflexion point in the economy.
My latest New York Times post goes through the traditional categories of spending, asking the question: Where is the strength to pull us out of the recession going to come from? The answers aren't encouraging. You may find that post here.