Sorry, wrong number--

by SixFigureStart | September 04, 2009

  • My Vault
That is, for one key stat, it's still moving in the wrong direction. Despite the lowest drop of the year in non-farm payrolls (216,000, below the predicted 233,000), the unemployment rate for August hopped up 0.3% to 9.7%. (Note that job losses are measured through company activity, while the unemployment rate is based on a survey of households.) Maybe June and July were part of the problem: The Bureau of Labor Statistics job loss estimates for the two months were revised upward by 20,000 and 29,000, respectively.

The modern-day record, in terms of the unemployment rate, is the 10.1% we achieved in June 1983. We're fast approaching the supposed peak of 10% provided earlier in the year by economists, and everyone is wondering, "What's over that next hill?" The media has long reminded us that employment gains will lag improvement in the rest of the economy, but no one is quite sure just how "laggy" we'll end up. Most educated guessers agree that, even in the best of all possible worlds, we won't start adding jobs (or at least offset losses) until early 2010. According to Michael Feroli, a JPMorgan Chase economist quoted by the New York Times, "It's going to be a long, long time before we see 6 percent or 7 percent."

Incidentally, congratulations are in order to the 34% of you that took our poll and correctly predicted the unemployment figure would land above 9.6%. (Only 23% were optimistic and expected a decline.) Pink Slipped has no prizes for the winners, though; you'll have to console yourselves with the (questionable) bragging rights.

--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault Staff Writer

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