America Out of Work: Job Loss Trend Now 21 Months Straight

But former Fed chief says he's now more bullish on economic growth.

ByABC News
October 4, 2009, 2:52 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2009— -- September brought the sobering news that unemployment now stands at 9.8 percent, the highest level of job losses hit since 1983, as Friday's dismal job loss report sent a catastrophic blow to optimists who say the economy is back on track.

But the job loss trend continues: Jobless numbers have risen for 21 straight months, the longest stretch since the Great Depression.

Today, 15 million Americans are out of work, and a third of that group has been unemployed for 6 months.

How much worse is the job situation going to get and for how long?

"Well, it's very difficult to make judgments at a time like this, largely because we don't have so many incidents in history to be able to compare it to," according to former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, an exclusive guest on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"My own suspicion is that we're going to penetrate the 10 percent barrier and stay there for a while before we start down," Greenspan said.

Greenspan's last appearance on the show was back in August, when he dismissed talk of a collapse, saying, "We've already seen the bottom."

Now, two months later and with the employment rate still rising, Greenspan has tempered his positive outlook.

"The job report was pretty awful, no matter how you looked at it," Greenspan said. "Indeed, not only, of course, did the unemployment rate go up, but I was particularly concerned about the number of Americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer. ... That went up sharply in September."

Despite the job report, Greenspan said his view on economic growth is even more bullish than what he predicted during his last appearance on "This Week" back in August.