In my year-end column here, I mention in passing that the unemployment rate seems likely to remain elevated for years. In his most recent column in the NYT, Paul Krugman explains why that’s a certainty, even assuming a fairly rapid pace of growth:
Suppose that the U.S. economy were to grow at 4 percent a year, starting now and continuing for the next several years. Most people would regard this as excellent performance, even as an economic boom; it’s certainly higher than almost all the forecasts I’ve seen.
Yet the math says that even with that kind of growth the unemployment rate would be close to 9 percent at the end of this year, and still above 8 percent at the end of 2012. We wouldn’t get to anything resembling full employment until late in Sarah Palin’s first presidential term.