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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

All eyes on Friday's jobs report

At 8:30 a.m. Friday, the Labor Department will release one of the most anticipated jobs reports in recent memory.

Forecasters predict the December national unemployment rate will come in at 10.1 percent, a slight rise over the November rate of 10 percent but down from the recent high of 10.2 percent in October.

Regardless of the number after the decimal, the first number is going to be a 10. And that's twice the unemployment rate of a healthy economy. We know from history that unemployment has remained high for months -- sometimes quarters -- after previous recessions have ended, so that means we should expect unemployment to hover in the 10 percent range through all of 2010.

As I do monthly, I'll be looking at what I believe to be the truer unemployment rate, which accounts for jobless Americans who have grown so discouraged they have given up looking for work and those who want to work full time but have been forced by the economy to take part-time jobs. That number, in November, stood at an eye-popping 17.2 percent.

The question is: Where will the new jobs come from? How can we get the unemployment rate back down where it should be? This story quotes economists saying they don't know how the U.S. is going to regain the 7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession.

In today's Post, my colleague Neil Irwin reports that the pace of job losses appears to be slowing in recent weeks.

But that doesn't necessarily mean job growth, which is what this economy desperately needs. Still, as one economist told Neil, "you have to start somewhere."

-- Frank Ahrens
Follow me on Twitter at @theticker

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 7, 2010; 2:06 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker , Unemployment  | Tags: BLS, Labor Department, Neil Irwin, jobless rate, unemployment  
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