Senior Executives Expect Recession Will Not End Until 2011

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A new study of 350 senior corporate executives posted results which look like those of many surveys of American consumers. The recession is not over, and, in fact, will not end until sometime next year. The poll was conducted by Grant Thornton.

Thirty-four percent of those queried believe that the recession will not end until the second half of next year. Twenty-eight percent picked the first half of 2011.

Half of those questioned believe that the economy will stay has it is for the next six months. Sixteen percent said it would worsen, up from the second quarter survey. The number who think the economy will improve over the next six months was 34%–a sharp drop.

Perhaps most depressing, the number of executives who think they will decrease workforces in the next six months rose to 15%. Those who  think they will increase payrolls over the same period dropped to 38%.

The views add to concerns that unemployment will not stage any recovery this year, and may not improve until well into 2011. That means the rate of joblessness could move closer to 10%. Perhaps worse, this trend would swell the numbers of the long-term unemployed–those who have been out of work for 26 weeks or more. That will put a substantial burden on the financial obligations of states and the federal government. It could force Washington to spend billions more on jobless benefits.

The data also indicate that the number of people out of work for 99-weeks or longer–those who receive no benefits whatsoever–could rise from its current level of 1.3 million to close to 2 million toward the end of this year.

Douglas A. McIntyre