Krugman in Greensboro; U.S. Unemployment Crosses 10% Threshold

Paul Krugman

In case you haven’t heard, economist Paul Krugman was in Greensboro last Tuesday as the latest featured speaker in Guilford College’s Bryan Lecture Series

Thanks to a friend, I was lucky enough to have a front row seat for Dr. Krugman’s lecture and later on (at a book-signing) tell him how much I have enjoyed his blog, especially over the last year or so as the financial crisis has gradually morphed into what folks are beginning to call “the Great Recession” (though I realize I’m not being too precise in my language here, as the recession officially started back in 2007).

Anyway, early on in his talk Dr. Krugman predicted the nation’s jobless rate would break through the 10% barrier this week, and sure enough that was what the Labor Department reported Friday, as unemployment jumped to 10.2% in October, up .4% from the previous month.  The last time unemployment topped 10% was in June, 1983

John Schoen, an MSNBC senior producer who has lately written a lot of gloomy articles on the job situation, notes that the broader unemployment rate — when you include part-timers and those who are still looking for work — is actually 17.5%.  This is also in line with what Dr. Krugman told us at his lecture the other night. 

Nonetheless, the speed with which the economy is losing jobs has slowed — down from approximately 700,000 per month in early 2009 to an average of less than 200,000 over the last three months, according to Schoen.  This is at least taken as a hopeful sign.

However, Dr. Krugman told us he believed recovery for employment would come slowly, and that job growth may remain tepid for years to come.  He says things will turn around eventually — perhaps with something like green industries leading the way — but, for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be rough going, and he expresses particular concern for younger folks just entering the job market.

The good news imparted by Dr. Krugman is that folks like Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (see Greensboro Public Library’s books on Bernanke here) realized what a precarious situation the financial system was in last year and took the right actions to avoid the kind of meltdown that happened in the 1930s.  And he also thinks the economic stimulus has helped, though it was not so big as it should have been.   

Notwithstanding the Professor’s mostly grim picture of the economy, it was a great lecture, and Guilford College is certainly to be applauded in their efforts to bring notables such as Dr. Krugman to Greensboro.

Greensboro Public Library has several books by Paul Krugman.  If you’re interested, follow this link.

And, as always, if you’re looking for work please keep in mind the Library’s links for job seekers.


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