New Year optimism is likely to be shaken by shocking numbers in the monthly employment report, with a loss of one million jobs coming "sooner than you might think," ING Bank analyst Rob Carnell wrote in a research note.
"At the risk of sounding like 'Dr. Evil', there is a very real possibility of seeing monthly payrolls falling by a million in the next few months," Carnell wrote.
Payroll losses could reach seven figures as soon as January or February, he added.
The latest nonfarm payrolls report is due out on Friday and analysts surveyed by Briefing.com forecast that 475,000 jobs were shed in December, slightly fewer than November's 533,000.
But the volatile figure can be higher, with TrimTabs Investment Research analysts suggesting the economy lost close to 700,000 jobs in the last month of 2008.
ING's Carnell said that persistently over the past year the official payrolls number was more optimistic than the bank's predictions, but now the two were closer and convergence was near.
For December, ING's forecast is for payrolls to drop by 750,000.