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What will the unemployment rate be a year from now?

The economy seems to do a little better and as I said things are getting worse more slowly and...and therefore, one might assume that the unemployment rate a year from now would be...well, fairly good or at least not nearly as bad.


But I am going to disappoint you. My prediction is that the unemployment rate a year from now is going to be 9 or 10%, still going to be very very high, nationally. I'm not talking about California which has been running even higher, I'm talking about nationally. Why would that be? Well, there are 2 major reasons even if we, as a nation, enjoy a fairly, moderately, robust recovery or even any kind of recovery between now and a year from now.


The things you need to keep in mind, just number one - the workweek. The average workweek right now is only about 33 hours, which means that when employers get around hiring people and it's going to take a long time before employers have the courage and confidence to start hiring again. But let's assume that employers start hiring, and some industries and some businesses are already beginning, it's going to take a long time before they decide they need to hire. Because they can use their own workers and just expanded the number of hours their own workers are putting in. 33-hour workweek means that you have a lot of room to just keep on paying your own workers for more time. I should add that these are not classified necessarily as part-time workers. Many of these workers are classified as full-time workers, they're just working a very much much shorter workweek.


The second thing to keep in mind and this is one of the paradoxes and ironies of the way we measure unemployment is that... As the economy begins to improve, more and more people who have been out of the workforce, too discouraged to look for work decide that they might have a better chance of getting a job and so they're going to start looking. And the bureau of labor statistics measures unemployment in the household survey by knocking on people's doors and saying "Are you looking for work?" And if you've got more people looking for work and fewer people discouraged transaction except that they don't look, then you have a higher unemployment rate than you do when you have a massive number of people as we do right now - who are too discouraged even to look. So for those 2 reasons, that is a shorter workweek that is going to permit a lot of expansion of your own workforce before you have to hire outside. And secondly, because of the way in which we measure under the household survey unemployment. We are likely to have a fairly high, and I'd say again 9 or 10% unemployment rate a year from now.

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