U.S. Unemployment Projected to Bottom Out by March

Full recovery not expected until 2012

The worst of U.S. job losses are expected to be over by March 2010 as the economic grows after a long recession, a poll of business economists showed Nov. 23.

U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2009 is expected to be 3%, rising to 3.2% over the whole of next year, according to the consensus macroeconomic outlook of a panel of 48 professional forecasters of the National Association of Business Economics (NABE).

"The recovery will not remain 'jobless' for long," the outlook report said.

"With more than 7.3 million jobs lost since December 2007, NABE panelists believe the end of net employment losses is near, with modest declines during the fourth quarter followed by a 'bottom' in the first quarter of 2010 and gains thereafter," the report said.

The U.S. unemployment rate shot up to 10.2% in October as another 190,000 jobs were shed, the government said earlier this month.

The jobless rate, up from 9.8% in September, was the highest since 1983 but the number of jobs lost narrowed to the lowest level in over a year.

Given the severity of employment losses during the past two years, most NABE panelists (61%) however did not expect a complete recovery of the previously lost jobs until 2012.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is predicted to remain stubbornly high, averaging 9.6% in the final quarter of next year, they said.

When asked to rank "concerns" over the next five-year period, panelists ranked high unemployment second only to the federal deficit.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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