Estimates and realities
of post-crisis unemployment

In January 2009, economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein presented a report that projected unemployment with and without the stimulus plan proposed by President-elect Barack Obama. But they weren't able to predict the severity of the financial crisis, and their estimates were more optimistic than the reality.

If the stimulus plan was passed, Romer and Bernstein projected the unemployment rate to top off in mid-2009 at 8 percent and drop to 7 percent by the third quarter of 2010.

unemployment rate with recovery plan

Without the stimulus plan, Romer and Bernstein projected a higher unemployment rate, topping out at 9 percent in the first half of 2010.

unemployment rate without recovery plan

The reality was much higher than projected, even with the stimulus. The unemployment rate hit a peak of 10.1 percent in October 2009 and 9.1 percent in September 2011.

Actual unemployment rate

Sources: "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinviestment Plan," 2009, president's Council of Economic Advisers; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Department. Graphic: The Washington Post. Published Oct. 7, 2011.