U.S. retailers experienced 66,600 jobs losses in December closing out what had been the worst year for retail workers since 1939 when the government began tracking work in this sector. With over 522,000 job losses in 2008 workers in the retail sector are in the fight of their lives as many of the biggest companies plan to send more workers to the unemployment line as they struggle to recover from dismal sales.

The workers experiencing job losses in the retail sector account for 20 percent of the jobs cut in the U.S. in 2008, although retail jobs only account for 11 percent of the country’s payroll employment.

It’s never a good sign when the statistics start comparing the current economic situation to the 1930’s. But it isn’t a surprise that the retail sector is experiencing massive job losses on the scale of the 1930’s because simply put, there aren’t enough consumers, credit or money to buy all the “stuff” they’re producing.

When times were “good” and the credit was flowing consumers had enough money to buy more stuff than they needed and the retailers expanded, with more stores and more employees. But with the subprime fiasco, foreclosures and the rising rate of personal bankruptcy, many consumers simply don’t have the cash or credit to go shopping the way they did during the economic boom.

Now the retailers who grew fat during the good times are quickly shedding the extra pounds in an attempt to just survive. But don’t think that these retail job losses are isolated. Many other businesses depend on the business of retailers so that they can survive. The job losses in the retail sector will eventually affect other parts of the economy. Keep your eyes peeled.