UNEMPLOYMENT HITS 9.8%, JOB LOSSES WORSEN…. Over the course of the year, there has been a general trend in the right direction on unemployment numbers. After January’s devastation, February was slightly better. And March was slightly better than February. And April was slightly better than March.

There was a sense that, slowly but surely, we were moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel. It turns out, that light is further away than we’d hoped.

In September, the U.S. lost 263,000 jobs, worse than August’s numbers, and reversing what was an upward trend. The unemployment rate also climbed to 9.8%.

I put together this chart, showing job losses by month, starting in January 2008. The July 2009 and August 2009 numbers have been revised to reflect Department of Labor adjustments (July was slightly worse than previously believed, August was slightly better.)

If we include those who are working part-time but want full-time employment, or those who’ve simply given up — the U6 measure — the overall rate in 17%. It is, not surprisingly, the highest it’s been since the government began keeping track in 1994.

The AP’s report added, “All told, 15.1 million Americans are now out of work, the department said. And more than 7.1 million jobs have been eliminated since the recession began in December 2007.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.