A majority of economists in the latest Associated Press Economy Survey expect the national unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent – the upper bounds of what’s considered healthy – for at least four more years.
If the economists are correct, the job market will still be unhealthy seven years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.
And it means the job market and the economy – President Barack Obama’s main political threats – would remain big challenges in either a second Obama term or President Mitt Romney’s first term.
“The election isn’t going to be a miracle cure for the unemployment rate – that’s for sure,” says Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. He thinks unemployment, which is 8.2 percent now, won’t drop back to 6 percent until after 2016.
Economists consider a “normal” level to be between 5 percent and 6 percent.
The economists surveyed by the AP foresee an unemployment rate of 8 percent on Election Day. That would be the highest rate any postwar president running for re-election has faced.
The survey results come before the government reports Friday on hiring during June. Fears about the economy escalated after U.S. employers added just 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year and the third straight month of weak job growth.