Obama Aides See ‘Extended Period’ of Unemployment (Update1)
By Rebecca Christie and Mike Dorning
March 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. employers won’t hire enough workers this year to lower the jobless rate much below the level of 9.7 percent reached in February, three Obama administration economic officials said today.
The proportion of Americans who can’t find work is likely to “remain elevated for an extended period,” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, White House budget director Peter Orszag and Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a joint statement. The officials said unemployment may even rise “slightly” over the next few months as discouraged workers start job-hunting again.
“We do not expect further declines in unemployment this year,” the officials said in testimony prepared for the House Appropriations Committee. They predicted the economy would add about 100,000 jobs a month on average -- not enough to bring the jobless rate down substantially.
Today’s projections are in line with the 10 percent average unemployment forecast for this year in last month’s budget plan. Christopher Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said the administration’s language risks damping expectations for a recovery.
“They need to work on the message, and right now the message is that there is not a lot to be hopeful about,” Rupkey said. “Warning about a slow jobless recovery can help make it a reality.”