For the first time in four years, the economy actually lost jobs in August. That gloomy news came from the labor department Friday. It signals that the economy has slowed a lot, and it has some analysts worrying that it's an early sign of recession.
Adding to the bleak picture Friday was word that Countrywide Financial Corp., the nation's largest mortgage lender, plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs in the next few months.
The employment report — that employers cut 4,000 jobs in August — stunned economists who were expecting continued job growth, although it's not a big number in terms of the overall labor market.
It all adds up to evidence that the housing downturn is starting to stifle the economy.