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. Jimmy James

    It may have slowed but the numbers aren't accurate. The numbers don't show the people that have given up looking, people working 2 and 3 part time jobs to make ends meet. The economy is a mess. It will take a lot longer to heal. My guess is that as the election next fall approaches we will hear more from the left that there are signs of recovery and doom and gloom from the right. Neither really cares about the people. They care about their continued employment.

    December 13, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. Scott, Tucson

    And obama is in the Rose garden singing the 'Sun will Come out Tomorrow'.

    December 13, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. Chipster

    It took 8 years to bring the economy down this far. It will take a long time to rebuild it, especially with all that fear-mongering resistance from those who contributed to the disaster. Frankly, we've made a start sooner than I had expected, considering 2 wars that will continue to drain the economy until they can be brought to an end.

    December 13, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    Just think how much faster the unemployment numbers might have gone down had the GOP worked WITH and not AGAINST President Obama ...

    December 13, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Chipster

    ...and Republicans oppose every attempt to improve the economy, except one. They will always support huge tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.

    December 13, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. Hendrik

    To Scott in Tucson,

    Isn't it amazing how we will find fault with everything the President does. You cannot even capitalize his name. I wonder if you are angry in your life or if you just want to be contrary.

    Regardless, I feel sorry for you.

    December 13, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. Saul - Virginia Independent

    Alan Greenspan has no credibility as far as i am concern. He contributed to the financial collapse and has acknowledge flaws in the economic model he prosecuted the last 8 years. Republicans can blame Obama all they want while they pretend that there hand are clean. But we will not forget that they reign over the last 8 years and left us the biggest mess of our time.
    Listening to Mitt Romney this morning on meet the press about growing government was also sickening since he grew the Massechussetts government and became the first governor to start Government run healthcare. I am sick of hearing the spin and BS!!

    December 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. catmomtx

    I was so please to hear Governor Granholm say enough of the doom and gloom. Listening to Mitt Romney with nothing to say other than Obama is wrong blah, blah, blah....more doom and gloom, nothing is working fast enough....If I recall, he quit the race for President so how does he think he is relevant? This country did not get in the shape it is in during the past 11 months. The country had eight years of Republican policies and those policies just about ruined our great country. I love how Republicans think the American people have forgotten that. Small positive things are happening and we should embrace that. Enough already with the doom and gloom and no help from Republicans other than perpetuating the idea that the country is failing. Enough of the media constantly trying to drum up negativity. How about embracing some of the small improvements and looking at the fact that our country is no longer on the verge of bankruptcy. Small changes are happening and that is a good thing. If people thought that President Obama was just going to wave his magic wand and erase the eight years of the Republican mess in a month or two, get a reality check.Or, better yet tune into someone other than Limbaugh and Beck.

    December 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. Melissa

    To: Lynda/Minnesota

    You want to cite an example how the GOP working WITH Obama may have created jobs?

    Look for unemployment numbers to go up when the next bubble bursts. Nothing supports the rise in the stocks ... zip, zero, just Obama's Wall Street "fat cat" cronies/donors manipulating the market.

    December 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. Right wingnuts are as dumb as a woonsocket

    It has been obvious from day one that the republicans will do everything to make our president fail. Lynda is correct.

    When the republicans teamed up with Fox lies and the health insurance industry, to make sure the shoddy practices of big insurance would not be changed, you knew the motto "Country First" was just more GOP crap.

    December 13, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. Debby

    Oh how convienent that they didn't mention that government jobs contribute to the minute decrease in unemployment. Why not talk to small buisness's or home and construction builders you will get a totally different aspect.

    December 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. lovable liberal

    Alan Greenspan got us into this. Why would we care about his opinion?

    December 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Melissa: What has been the the GOP platform in lowering the unemployment numbers?

    December 13, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Ted

    I have no trust in what Greenspan says, but I would have to agree with him here (ouch, it hurts even to type that). Obama's plan didn't work quite as well as expected, but it still worked, and in a year or so the economy will be a hell of a lot better, no thanks to Boehner n' co.

    December 13, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. Dave M.

    This comment goes out to "Saul – Virginia Independent"

    As per your statement "But we will not forget that they reign over the last 8 years and left us the biggest mess of our time" I agree that the Republicans really screwed things up. However, all things taking in the deficit was 2T under Bush which historically and adjusted for inflation that was pretty moderate for a war time situation. Not to mention that although Bush did sign off on it, it was the Democrats that created and past the bailout that turned a 1T (war time) deficit into the 2T that Obama inherited. We are curently at 12T and rapidly rising.

    Look, I used to be a Republican. For years I felt as if I was slowly being led to slaughter by the party, but I stuck with them. About 6 mos. into Bush's 2nd term I realized that I was just stuck on wishful thinking and in reality the R. party has completly abandoned me. However, the Democrats are no different except they are moving much faster to take this nation down than the Republicans are.

    Stop being so narrow minded and stuck in a one track way of politics, and fully look at the whole pocture. Glenn Beck, and Fox news are not "hatefull scare monger's". Typically what they are reporting is fact. Granted they may be wrong sometimes. They may also hype things up a bit, but so does everyone else it's how all stations and programs get ratings. Take the time to listen to what people with different opinoins have to say before you judge, and if you do not like it, or don't believe it, do not just dissmiss or bash it. Ask questions, and do your own in depth research to find the truth. Only with this kind of thinking will this Country survive and prosper for generations to come. No one should tell you what to think or bellieve, but you should always now all the facts before you decide what you think or believe. Otherwise you are just bieng ignorant and adding to the problem.

    Dave M.

    Proud Patriot who studies political history and does detailed research into every issue that I believe to be important to this great, but dwindling Nation.

    December 13, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Yossi Gestetner

    The UR WILL continue to rise before it comes down. Going from 10.2 to 10% was just a step back before runing uphill again!!!

    December 13, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. Monster Zero

    Greenspan was one of the major architects of the economy bust while under Clinton he orchestrated the derivatives market and his reign under the following Administrations was not much better. This was the very first bust that cost us dearly then but people are unaware and uninformed, research it. I would not listen to anything these guys put out, they are all just spewing the propaganda to sway public opinion into spending. No bank loans means no jobs, no confidence in a puppet Administration means no confidence in the business future. Obama and the Democrats have spent us into a corner which can only result in higher taxes, inflation and a slow slow slow recovery!

    We won't see a positive growth in jobs until this leftist liberal kook is out of office!

    December 13, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. 38% of black men unemployed.......

    what's your answer????? Fix this now or get voted OUT in November.

    December 13, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans can help by stop spreading false propaganda that is worse for our country when countries like China whom we borrow from are listening. If China calls in their notes on us, we can all blame the Republicans and the more I think about it I believe that's the Republicans intent because that is the only thing they have left to fight against the Obama administration. Think about it.

    December 13, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Texas Longhorn talks Truth

    It is. Where at. Did the NAACP check this out and tell you what to say. Whoever it was was not buying groceries.

    December 13, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    Greenspan said, "Unemployment is going to be lower, mostly due to people returning to the labor force". How stupid can this cluck be? Of course the reason unemployment goes down is because people go back to work.

    If we have idiots like this running our financial system it is no wonder we got into this mess. Dang people, Gomer Pyle was smarter than that.

    December 13, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Matt

    How come GOP folks cry foul whenever people remind them that it took 8 yrs of their leaders to get us here? They like to say that Obama is a crybaby for reminding them that he inherited this mess. On top of that, it hasn't even been one year let alone one term since Obama has been sworn into office. So to them it's normal to expect the new guy to fix everything in less than a year than to need the equal amount of time that it took to mess it up? Grow up haters. Come back after two terms and if things haven't looked up by then, I will agree with you that Obama didn't do any better than Bush. Until then, ya'll can keep your clap traps shut and let the man try to do his job.

    December 13, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Bev

    The slight decrease in unemployment--is ONLY due to the "temporary" hiring for the holidays!!!

    We will NOT see an improvement of the economy/unemployment rate until Obama and the Democrats lose power/control.

    –What business is going to hire now-when the Bush tax cuts are about to expire, and they do not know what their taxes will be??

    -What business is going to hire now-when they do not know what the health care disaster is going to cost them-they don't even know if they will be able to stay in business.

    -What business is going to hire now--when they do not know what the Cap and Tax Energy Bill is going to cost them-they might not even be able to stay in business.

    -What business is going to hire now-when they are now being "punished" for making a profit.

    We will see an immediate improvement of the economy/unemployment rate-–as soon as the power/control is taken away from Obama and the Democrats through the 2010 elections!!

    December 13, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. John an Independent from NY

    When the system doesn't count them anymore that is NOT an improvement.

    December 13, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. stu

    When will we hear a massive public demand for Congressional term limits? If that ever happens, we will see the end to this polarization. Wingnuts on both sides embrace dogma and ideology over progress and substance to secure their respective bases and gain re-election. Force them out after one or two terms and we will see men and women of good will come to office to actually try to pass legislation with the interests of all Americans at heart.

    December 13, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
1 2