Unemployment Rate Jumps to 9.7%, Highest Since June 1983

Peter Morici, an economics professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, also predicted that it would take until January or February to see job growth.

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Workers are being asked to do more or simply working harder today. That along with technology advances means that the economy needs to grow by at least 2 percent just to keep up with the increase in productivity.

"There is a tendency during good times to get a little too fat. But you discover in a recession that you can get by with fewer people," he said.

Young and Old Workers

Then there is the issue of more young workers entering the workforce than older workers leaving. That is exacerbated by older workers who now feel they can't retire because of the economy and losses in their investment portfolios. Morici said the economy needs to grow by at least another 1 percent to overcome that demographic trend.

"You scale back your activities for a recession, you get some new orders, why should you hire people if you don't have to?" Morici said. "You can get a little more productivity out of the people you've got because it's so expensive to hire and fire. You want to be sure."

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