November's Unemployment Rate in 2010 (...and 2012)

The OECD has new estimates about America's GDP and unemployment rate over the next two years. Good news: Their GDP projections grew by 150%. Bad news: They still project growth will be 50% lower than during the 1984 recovery. Free Exchange pulls out the key stats. I have some thoughts toward 2010 and 2012.

In the two years after the end of the 1982 recession, the American economy expanded by 4.5% (1983) and 7.2% (1984), and at the end of that period the American unemployment rate was still above 7%. The OECD projects that the American economy will expand by 2.5% next year, and by perhaps around 3% in 2011. Accordingly, they estimate that at the end of 2011, the American unemployment rate will be just a bit below 9%.

Last week I highlighted a post that argued (with statistics!) that the unemployment rate doesn't have much to do with mid-term elections. The problem with that argument is there has only been one midterm election in the last 50 years with unemployment over 8 percent. It was in 1982 and Reagan got creamed, losing 27 seats in the House. The OECD says unemployment will be in the 8 percent range through 2012. Forget the Mayans. For the Democratic Party, that number is apocalyptic enough.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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