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Unemployment Probably Topped 9% in May: U.S. Economy Preview

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Shobhana Chandra
Sunday, May 31, 2009

Unemployment in the U.S. probably surpassed 9 percent in May for the first time in more than 25 years, underscoring forecasts that the economy will be slow to pull out of the worst recession in half a century, economists said before a report this week.

The jobless rate climbed to 9.2 percent, the highest level since September 1983, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of the Labor Department’s June 5 report. Other data may show manufacturing and service industries shrank at a slower pace and consumer spending dropped.

“The economy is decaying at a slower rate and that is the best you can say,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York. “I can’t tell you we are out of the woods yet.”


Economists forecast the jobless rate will head to almost 10 percent by the end of the year, depriving Americans of the income needed to propel spending and stoke a vigorous recovery. Access to credit will likely also be limited as record defaults and foreclosures make banks reluctant to lend.

The unemployment rate is predicted to rise from 8.9 percent in April. Payrolls probably fell by 521,000 this month after declining by 539,000 in April, the survey also showed. Job losses peaked at 741,000 in January, the most since 1949.

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This article was posted: Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 4:40 am

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