Friday, July 8, 2011

A truly scary unemployment trend

To call today's lackluster jobs report "shocking" is fairly ridiculous, given the long-discussed expectation that there would be some level of a double-dip to this recession.

That's just the way recoveries often go when the initial fall off is a deep one.

But the chart below, which CNBC called "the scariest jobs chart ever" a few moments ago, is indeed frightening. Particularly for someone like me: young(ish), underemployed for a year and in an industry that shows no signs of improving, ever.

The chart comes from the Federal Reserve's research wing in St. Louis. Folks, that is what charts look like when the upper boundary is labelled "to infinity." It's what it looks like when the jobs simply don't come back.

That doesn't mean that's what will happen. Like the collector coins advertised on late night television, past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. But that is long-term, white-knuckle, truly-scared-for-the-first-time stuff.

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