Hey hey! Turns out one in ten Americans might be unemployed this year -- and I am one of those, uh, ones. Let me bring the numbers first, then wander into the personal.
The minutes of last month's Federal Reserve meeting have been released, and there's a wee bit of unsurprising news in them [.pdf]. Since April's meeting, the group has "moved up their unemployment rate projections and continued to anticipate that labor market conditions would deteriorate further over the remainder of the year." They're predicting unemployment will be between 9.8 and 10.1 percent, the first time the committee has seen 10 percent as a possibility.
They also said that overall GDP is expected to increase next year, but I feel a particularly personal tug toward focusing on these unemployment numbers, because as of this week, I have joined their ranks. More on that in a bit. Let's talk bad [WSJ]:
"Labor market conditions were of particular concern to meeting participants," the Fed said, adding that with the recovery expected to be sluggish, "most participants anticipated that the employment situation was likely to be downbeat for some time."
The unemployment rate is currently 9.5%, a 26-year high. According to officials' quarterly projections, released along with Wednesday's meeting minutes, jobless rate forecasts for the end of 2009 range from 9.7% to 10.5%. One official expects the unemployment rate to reach 10.6%, though most expect the rate to fall next year.
I currently live in, and am seeking a job in, a state with 12.6 percent unemployment. There's no better way to phrase this: It sucks. I know people who have job-hunted for a year -- people with the same qualifications I have, up to and including a shiny master's degree.
So now I'll narrow down to me, as uninteresting and unenlightening as that may be. I mentioned this the last time I wrote about the absolute suckitude of high unemployment: the less secure everyone feels in their finances, the less mobile they are, and the less choice is available to them. I wrote that and then made what may be a very bad choice anyway -- to turn down a law school scholarship to stay in a place I love and try to find work I enjoy. This means giving up a lot of security for the next few years, but it will also, I hope, mean giving up the old, tired, ever-lasting dollar chase that I was headed toward. It will eventually mean less debt, but right now, it means less sleep and less certainty; less hope and more fear; less time to write, and more time to worry.
This is how I feel about unemployment, too, Mr. President.
My situation is different, and less dire, than most: I have made a choice to pursue an uncertain path. I still have more sympathy for nearly every unemployed person in the United States than myself, and am neither asking for nor expecting any of that from, well, anyone. This jobless frame is where I'm writing from at the moment, though, and it seemed important to lay that out.
So, in short, I hate this economy, now more personally than ever. Ten percent, man -- that's a national nightmare.