Friday AM November 7th, 2008

The number of Americans drawing continuing unemployment benefits has risen to the highest level in 25 years. Ed Mayberry reports.

image of empty office desk

The Labor Department reports the number of people continuing to get unemployment benefits jumped by 122,000 to more than 3.8 million in late October.  That’s the most since February 1983, when the nation was struggling to recover from a long and painful recession.  New unemployment figures are due today.  Steve Drexel is the president and CEO of Coresaff.

“We expect to see the unemployment rate to continue to move up, probably a point, to around 7.1 per cent, and then we would think that it would flatten out during the, you know, second, third and fourth quarters of 2009, and then hopefully begin the decline in the first quarter of 2010.  And then, you know, seasonally, it might be a soft holiday period, but 2009 we hope would be mostly a period of stabilization, and then you’ll start to see a read recovery in 2010.”

President-elect Barack Obama today plans his first public event since his historic victory Tuesday — a meeting with top economic advisers, followed by a news conference.  The economy, by far, was the most important issue for voters.  Drexel expects that to be Obama’s first order of business. 

“Well, I think there’s a concensus that we need a strong stimulus package in order to avoid a deep and prolonger recession and probably a thought that it can’t wait until January when President Barack would be actually inaugurated.  So they’ll have to hit the ground running and maybe even work with a current lame-duck Congress to come up with something, you know, pretty robust in order to, you know, be effective in the beginning parts of 2009.” 

Democrats in Congress are pushing to include an extension of unemployment benefits in a new stimulus package, which could be taken up this month. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.