December 13th, 2009
02:03 PM ET
11 months ago

Top economists say unemployment coming down, but slowly

Washington (CNN) - Unemployment will go down in the coming year, but that doesn't mean U.S. economic woes are over, leading economic figures said Sunday.

Appearing on the NBC program "Meet the Press," former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Christina Romer, chairman of the White House Council on Economic Advisers, both made qualified predictions for economic growth and decreasing unemployment.

"I feel (it's) very likely it will be coming down," Romer said of the unemployment rate, but warned some "bumps" are likely in the coming year.

Greenspan noted upcoming boosts to employment, such as more than 700,000 people working in 2010 to conduct the federal census.

Unemployment "is going to be lower," Greenspan said, mostly due to people returning to the labor force.

Greenspan distinguished between a technical end to the recession - which would be consecutive quarters of economic growth, likely happening now - and a comprehensive reversal of the downturn marked by renewed job growth.

To Romer, declaring the recession truly over means a drop in the unemployment rate from the current 10 percent level to the normal level before the downturn of about 5 percent.

"The recession took a long time coming; it's going to take a long time" coming out of it, Romer said.

Another of President Barack Obama's advisers, National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers, told CNN's "State of the Union" that "it will take time" for the economic recovery to bring down the unemployment rate.

Economic recoveries typically begin with growth in gross domestic product, which has started, Summers said.

"Most professional forecasters expect job growth by spring and I think that's a reasonable judgment in an uncertain world," said the former Treasury secretary. Helping spur job creation will be the Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus package, according to Summers.

"The number of projects under the program… is going to be about twice as great over the next six months as it was over the last six months," Summers said.

However, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination last year, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the stimulus program has failed to create jobs as promised and should be overhauled.

The nation's real economic threat is runaway spending that is creating "excessive and massive deficits" and "threatens our long-term viability," Romney said. He urged immediate steps to "rein in" government spending.

On "FOX News Sunday," Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire agreed on the need to set up a bipartisan congressional task force to advise the government on how to lower the federal deficit. McCaskill also plugged Obama's push to help small businesses get credit, starting with a meeting the president will have Monday with bank executives.

At the same time, the Obama administration wants to increase regulations on Wall Street firms and financial institutions to help protect consumers from excessive risk-taking that helped spawn the economic crisis last year. The House passed a bill Friday calling for tougher regulation of financial markets, but the measure is expected to face opposition in the Senate.

Summers told CNN that Wall Street should not be resisting Democratic efforts to impose new regulations.

"It was irresponsible risk-taking that brought the economy to the brink of collapse," he said.

"For firms that have benefited from taxpayer support to be complaining about the government burdening them is, frankly, a bit rich," Summers said.

After receiving so much public help, "now the financial community's got to think about its obligations to the country," he said.

Updated: 2:03 p.m.


Filed under: Alan Greenspan • Christina Romer • Economy • Larry Summers • Popular Posts
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Ray B

    How soon all you Democrats forget that there were lots of Dems in off the "last 8 years" including having control for part of it. Yes Pelosie and Frank were around the Last 8 years doing the same poor job they are doing now. We all thought Obama was going to change Washington. Thats what he campaigned on , thats why he was elected. But instead its the same as it was. Only now the spenders have control over both houses and the presidentcy. With out the parties being canceled out we get ruin in our country. Until we all wake up and decide to change Washington and the way business is done we will get the same poor leadership. We were duped by Obama into thinking he was change. We need a new constitutional convention.

    December 13, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. B

    With Obama’s help we will work our way out of this, but is will not happen overnight.

    Bush & Co. built a very LARGE pile of Manure that we have to try and dig out of..

    December 13, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. philthetruth

    Looks like I found the one of the last enclaves of lib delusion.
    NEWSFLASH: Obama is the most unqualified president this country will ever have.
    Yes you did!-elect a radical socialist who has no idea who he is, where he lives, or what he is doing. You got fooled, or at least conditioned to believe you should vote for someone like Obama, don't get fooled again.
    Neuter Obama in 2010, mmm, mmm, mmm...

    December 13, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. anngelo

    One thing America I want to say...Obama is trying to fix all the mess that the past administration left. Leave the President to work in peace. Stand up America is time for a big change.

    December 13, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Michael

    OH?

    I bet those numbers don't include the people who's unemployment benefits have run out.

    Numbers maybe be improving due to retail seasonal work, I guarantee that in January everything is going to crash and burn again.

    December 13, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. geo

    I work two jobs and have for about a year and a half. In my full time position I deal with a wide range of manufacturing, chemical, pharmecutical companies, while my part ime work basically touches all parts of the economic spectum. Compared to this time last year, there is a noticeable increase in over all activity. Infact, since about mid September, things have definitely picked up and seem to be steadiliy increasing. Although I always have felt that Wall Street is pretty detached from every day Americans, it does have great influence over economic avtivity. Since Obama has become President, Investors, including every day Americans, have regained more than 60-70 percent of the money they lost in the collapse that took place in late 2008. Jobs and Home sales/values are still lagging behind, but things are definitely headin in the right direction, and that really cannot be denied. I also would like to point out that while Obama was running for President, he was continuously criticized for painting the economy in such bleak terms, especially from those on the Right! ( A fact that has turned out to be quite true in retrospect) Their reasoning was that he was exxagerating the issue and making people believe things were horrible. Why then, is it okay for the Right to speak so badly of the recovery now??? Looking at the facts, things are improving, and are a good bit better than 1 year ago!! Work on continuous improvement!! Stop all the gloomy talk and present ways to help the parts of our economy that are still lagging behind.

    December 13, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. TCM

    wow...economists working for the government, posting their findings on the liberal media, controlled by the White House...what a biased report. In addition, employment usually goes up during Christmas, but it's the seasonal, dead end jobs. This article is merely a slight of hand to defer focus from the failing efforts of the Obama ninkompoops.....

    December 13, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. TCM

    Hendrik – I bet they capitalize his name in Kenya....actually it's a sad situation when so many liberals like you still defend obama; despite the fact that it's been proven repeatedly that his policies are wrong, his numbers, graphs, and reports are biased and incorrect, and at a minimum, he's one of the most anti-American people ever elected to office...I guess you're still reeling from "Hope and Change," and all the other "car salesman," slogans..

    December 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    the dems never worked with bush wither, so the fact the republicans dont back obama, get over it

    this is how washington works people (Lynda/Minnesota)

    just wait until the shoe in on the other foot and for 8 years we can blame obama for everything

    barrack bashing is what we will call it

    personal responsability people...........its your fault because you voted for them in.....none of this is my fault because nobody i voted for made office.....................so maybe people should take measure of whats good for the nation not just gays, labor unions, global warming junk political science..............

    this is all just so dumb..................i blame america
    shame on you

    vote them out..........stupids

    December 13, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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