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Podcast: The October Employment Report and What It Means for the Economy

November 6, 2009

In this podcast we'll discuss this month's employment report and what it means for the economy. I'm Michelle Bazie. We're here with the Center's Chief Economist, Chad Stone, to discuss the jobs report for October which was released today.

1. Chad, the Labor Department issued numbers showing that unemployment rose to 10.2 percent, the first double digit rate since 1983. What does this reveal about the state of the economy?

A: It shows that although the economy turned up in the third quarter, the labor market did not. The economy is still in a very deep hole and we face a long climb back to full employment.

2. Since the recession began in December 2007, employers have eliminated 7.3 million jobs from their payrolls. Is that how many jobs we have to make up to get back to full employment?

A: Unfortunately not. First, that figure is expected to go up to about 8 million when the Labor Department issues revised data in February. But the job shortfall is even larger than that because, with the U.S. population continuing to grow, the number of jobs needed for full employment has gone up by about 2 million since the start of the recession. Putting all that information together, the economy is currently about 10 million jobs short of full employment.

3. We face a long climb back to full employment. Is there anything policymakers can do to make that climb easier?

A: Some of the measures in the economic recovery legislation that the Administration and Congress enacted at the start of the year will continue to provide a boost to the economy. But two key provisions, extra unemployment insurance benefits and aid to state governments, are scheduled to expire. If that happens, it would exert a job-killing drag on the already fragile recovery. Congress should, at a minimum, make sure that workers who run out of their regular unemployment benefits next year will not have to suddenly cut back sharply on their consumption. And Congress should make sure that states will not have to make truly draconian job-killing cuts to their budgets next year.

Thanks for joining me, Chad.

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