What happened
The already weak labor market is being hit by a new wave of layoffs, as employers aggressively cut jobs to deal with a looming recession. The number of mass layoffs—more than 50 workers at a time—and new unemployment claims were at their highest last month since September 2001. And with recent big cuts at Yahoo, Merck, Comcast, and National City bank, analysts fear the worst is yet to come. (The Washington Post)

What the commentators said
It might seem like “we’re overstating the gravity” of the jobless numbers, said Daniel Gross in Slate, but, if anything,  things are probably worse than they look. The official jobless rate of 6.1 percent is historically pretty low, but when you count discouraged and underemployed workers, it jumps to more than 10 percent, the highest rate since at least 1994.

If you think you're in danger of joining the ranks of the unemployed, asked Ruth Mantell in The Wall Street Journal, look for “red flags”: your coworkers are being laid off; a new hiring freeze; cut projects or training budgets; poor financial results; and “office gossip.” If you see the signs, prepare for the next step.

The next step might be a “hybrid” job, said Andrea Coombes in MarketWatch. More employers are looking for workers who can combine skills from “two disparate fields”—say, IT and marketing. The key to landing these jobs is education—whether in college or midcareer, study different fields of interest, then tell interviewers about specific things you’ve learned or done.