Stubbornly High Unemployment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported monthly unemployment rates for the past 775 months.  Through the first 733 months of reporting (until January 2009) the unemployment rate was above 8% in only 38 months.  There were 12 months of high unemployment in 1975 and 26 more from 1981 to 1983.  Since then we have experienced 42 straight months of unemployment in excess of 8% of our (shrinking) labor force.  We are in uncharted territory.  Unfortunately, it appears that the unemployment rate will not fall below 8% until some time in 2013.  Only time will tell what the scarring effects of extended periods of unemployment will mean for the future earnings of workers displaced by the 2007-2009 recession.

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