Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of bond fund powerhouse Pimco, said the employment picture is dire for the economy.
“In just 16 months, the U.S. unemployment rate has doubled from 4.8 percent to 9.5 percent, a remarkable surge by virtually any modern-day metric,” he wrote in the Financial Times. “It is also likely that the 9.5 percent rate understates the extent to which labor market conditions are deteriorating.”
And the bad news isn’t over, El-Erian wrote. The jobless rate will probably reach 10 percent by year-end and then move even higher.
“The rate may not peak until 2010, in the 10.5 to 11 percent range,” he wrote. “It will likely stay there for a while given the lackluster shift from inventory rebuilding to consumption, investment and exports.”
And what does that mean for the economy?
“The unemployment rate will increasingly disrupt an economy that, hitherto, has been influenced mainly by large-scale dislocations in the financial system,” El-Erian wrote.
The ramifications aren’t pretty. “The combination of stubbornly high unemployment and growing government debt will not play well,” he wrote. “The rest of the world should also worry… The U.S. economy is on a bumpy journey to a new normal.”
Star economist David Rosenberg also is bearish on the employment front. He told CNBC the real U.S. unemployment rate, including workers pushed to part-time, is 16.5 percent.
“It’s going to be the mother of all jobless recoveries, when we actually get to the recovery,” Rosenberg said.
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