This is an extraordinarily bad number, and makes this week a 1-2 punch for Democrats. A 10.2 percent jobless rate is the highest since April 1983, even though the labor force participation rate actually dipped a bit. The broader U6 measured surged to 17.5 percent. Recall that 7 quarters of average GDP growth of roughly 7 percent in the 1980s only brought down the unemployment rate by 2 1/2 percentage points. As the Labor Department sums things up:
An analysis by IHS Global Insight looks at unemployment in major metro areas:
Looking ahead, payrolls will be rising in most metros for consecutive quarters a year from now, but the unemployment rate will have shown little improvement, as employment gains will not be sufficient to absorb enough job seekers. A third of metro areas will have jobless rates in double digits in the fourth quarter of 2010, with 16 exceeding 15%. … By the end of 2012, the jobless rate will still be above historic norms, but it will finally slip below 8% in more than half of metro areas.
Watch CEA chair Christina Romer manage voter expectations:
Consistent with the recent cyclical pattern, the unemployment rate is predicted to continue rising for two quarters following the resumption of GDP growth. Whether this happens and how high the unemployment rate eventually rises will obviously depend on the strength of the GDP rebound. … With predicted growth right around two and a half percent for most of the next year and a half, movements in the unemployment rate either up or down are likely to be small. As a result, unemployment is likely to remain at its severely elevated level.