The latest overall job loss numbers showed a loss of 190,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate rose to 10.2%, the highest unemployment rate since April 1983. The August and September numbers were revised as well to losses of 154,000 and 219,000, respectively. 7.3 million jobs have now been lost since this recession began.
So far for this recession, the peak has been 741,000 lost jobs in January 2009. In the 2001 recession, monthly losses hit a high of 325,000. The 1990-91 recession peaked at 306,000 losses. As you can see from the chart below, numbers peak toward the end of a recession (past recessions are marked by grey bands), making employment a lagging indicator. The unemployment rate peaked at 10.8% at the end of the 1981-82 recession.