Many forecasters think the unemployment rate will increase next year because of sluggish growth. Right now the FOMC is forecasting the unemployment rate will be in the 8.5% to 8.7% range in Q4 2012, and private forecasters are even more pessimistic. Goldman Sachs is forecasting 9% in Q4 2012, and Merrill Lynch is forecasting 8.8%.
But it is possible that we could see 8% by the election. It depends on job creation and the participation rate...
If the participation rate falls to 63.5%, the economy needs to add 74 thousand jobs per month for the unemployment rate to fall to 8%. But a further decline in the participation rate would not be good news. I expect the participation rate to increase if the economy improves at all.
Most likely I think the participation rate will be in the 64.0% to 64.5% range next November. That would mean the economy would need to add somewhere between 167,000 and 260,000 jobs per month. The bottom end of that range seems possible with sluggish growth, but the top end is less likely.
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