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October 17, 2003
Economists Expect Little Change in Unemployment Rate for 2004
Economists say that the unemployment rate will hover around 6.1 percent for the rest of 2003 and 5.9 percent for all of 2004, according to Reuters.

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The news agency surveyed 25 economists and found that, while the economists believe there are some signs of economic growth, they expect the employment turnaround won't come for months.

Economists say payroll gains must be larger than the 57,000 increase reported for September to have a real impact on unemployment figures.

"It would take jobs growth of 200,000 to 300,000 a month for six months or more to make a dent in unemployment," says James Glassman, senior economist at J.P. Morgan.

Glassman notes improved reports on the jobs front could encourage discouraged jobless workers to reenter the hunt for jobs, which could weigh on unemployment figures, Reuters reports.

Analysts have been trying to determine the factors that are making this a jobless recovery. Some analysts are contending the job losses since 2001 may be permanent and a result of a shift in the economy.

"I suspect that a large part of these net job losses--particularly in manufacturing, airlines and telecommunications--are permanent and will not be reversed as the economy gains steam," says Susan Bies of the Federal Reserve. "Instead, new jobs will need to be created in other sectors of the economy to replace them."

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