The post-Depression record for consecutive months with the unemployment rate above 9% was 19 months in the early '80s. That record will be broken this month, and it is very possible that the unemployment rate will still be above 9% in December 2011. This high level of unemployment - and the number of long term unemployed - is an economic tragedy. The economy probably needs to add around 125 thousand payroll jobs per month just to keep the unemployment rate from rising (payroll jobs and unemployment rate come from two different surveys, so there is no perfect relationship, and the rate also depends on the participation rate). What will the unemployment rate be in December 2011?
First, here is a graph showing the current unemployment rate (red) and the participation rate (blue). The unemployment rate depends both on job creation and the labor force participation rate.
The unemployment rate is currently at 9.8%, and the Labor Force Participation Rate (blue) was at 64.5% in November. This is the percentage of the working age population in the labor force.
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