Jobless claims data paint bleak picture for 2009 (AP)

In this Nov. 7, 2008 file photo, job seekers look for employment opportunities and work on resumes at WorkSource California, a program jointly funded by the state, city and county of Los Angeles, at their Mid-Wilshire office in Los Angeles. The government said Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008, the number of newly laid off workers signing up for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week. However, those continuing to draw aid climbed to the highest level since 1982. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)AP – The number of laid-off workers continuing to draw unemployment benefits bolted to 4.5 million in late December, and even more Americans are expected to join the ranks of the jobless in 2009.

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