The United States government has announced more than 533,000 people lost their jobs in November, the biggest monthly job loss for 34 years.
BBC News website readers sent in their stories of unemployment and explained their difficulties in looking for a new job.
BOB YOUNG, MARKETING CONSULTANT, MICHIGAN
I have been working as a self-employed marketing consultant for over 13 years. The first 12 were fine, but in the last month I have seen a relentless slide downwards in the amount of work available to me.
Re-entering the traditional job market at the current rate of unemployment is like swimming upstream in a flood-swollen river. Currently, I have probably 35 job applications out there and have only heard back from two of them.
People don't even reply back any more - I guess this is because of the huge number of applications.
The slide was already noticeable from the holiday period in 2007, but this is usual because companies don't have any money left in their spending budget. But after that period, work just didn't come back.
In the US, there is an unemployment fund which you contribute to when you work. But self-employed workers like me don't get that help when we are laid off.
My income is down by 85%. My wife is a nurse, and healthcare is one of the sectors which still offer jobs, so we do have one income. But we have a daughter in university and a house to pay for.
To be honest, the best way to help self-employed workers like me is to create jobs at any level. Marketing helps businesses by making people buy their products, but if people are buying less because less money is coming in, there is no use for us.
So, if you create jobs at all levels, there will be confidence in spending and the effects will trickle down to all and the markets will be competitive again.
JASON COSTELLO, GRAPHIC DESIGN STUDENT, SAN FRANCISCO
I am a 27-year-old graphic design student who was working in video and web production, paying my way through college.
I was recently laid off, due to downsizing. My unemployment status, as well the credit crunch, is making it nearly impossible for me to get the money that I need to finish school.
I stopped receiving federal grants because in my last part-time job I was making $19,000 a year, and now I can't get any education loans from the banks because I am unemployed. The fact that I only have a year left rubs salt into the wound.
My, brother, who I share an apartment with, was just laid off last night. And a friend of mine and his girlfriend lost their jobs two days ago.
I have applied for three jobs but I haven't received any replies yet. I think the job openings are a bit more than half the number you got the same time last year.
I receive unemployment benefit from the state of California, as I worked for two years both full-time and part-time. After a lot of discussion the state agreed to give me $200 a week, which just about covers the rent on my apartment, because rent in San Francisco is very high. So at least that's covered. But I can't attend school to finish my studies.
I am planning to go to citizen school so that I don't fall behind and I am willing to take any job to have money for food. I have done various jobs and I will try to do anything, like carpentry.
My brother and my friends were discussing that the only solution to this crisis is to redesign systems that are clearly not working, investing in things like renewable resources and focusing on the local community.
I hope this crash makes my generation realise that all decisions lately have been made not for capital, but for profit.
ANONYMOUS, CONTRACTOR, TIJUANA, MEXICO
I work for Toyota Motor Manufacturing as a contractor.
I fear for my job right now, as the company always slashes on its variable workforce every time sales go down.
At 42 and with no home of my own and pending car payments, I don't know
what will happen next year. No one has told me anything, but I'm almost certain I will lose my job.
Tijuana is a border city with lots of "maquilas" or factories and many of them are laying off employees or reducing work days.
I have many friends who have lost their jobs. Some American companies have already left the country.
I have tried to look for other work, but nobody is hiring.
Mexico has a huge informal economy, so I will try to do something on my own, like buying and selling things or fixing things to try to make a living. I have a wife to support, so life is not very good at the moment.