- The unemployed number 15.4 million. The jobless rate is 10 percent. More than 7 million jobs have vanished. People out of work at least six months number a record 5.9 million. And household income, adjusted for inflation, has shrunk in the past decade.
- Most economists say it could take at least until 2015 for the unemployment rate to drop down to a historically more normal 5.5 percent. And with the job market likely to stay weak, some also foresee another decade of wage stagnation.
- On the other hand, it's possible some technological innovation not yet envisioned could generate a wave of jobs. Yet at the moment, most economists aren't betting that any such breakthroughs will rescue the labor market.
- The last time the jobless rate reached double digits, in the early 1980s, it took six years to bring it down to normal levels.
Good news: risk factors notwithstanding, our suspicion (and hope) is that history will repeat itself and the gloomy mainstream outlook will improve in 2010.
© 2009 Jeffrey Walkenhorst
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