President Reagan's chief economic adviser said yesterday that he expected the unemployment rate to climb "well over" the current 8 percent.
Murray L. Weidenbaum, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, conceded that unemployment might hit the 9 percent level of the 1974-1975 recession, which was the deepest economic slump since World War II.
But in his appearance yesterday on "Face the Nation" (CBS, WDVM), Weidenbaum predicted a major economic turnaround in 1982.
"The second half of 1982 will not only be a period of expansion but one of the most vigorous periods of economic growth in recent years," he said.
Weidenbaum sidestepped questions about Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman's controversial remarks on Reagan's budget and tax-cut programs in an article in the December issue of Atlantic Monthly.
The Stockman controversy surfaced in other Sunday television interview shows as well.
Rep. James R. Jones (D-Okla.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said Stockman's remarks underscore "a sense of cynicism and a sort of question where the American people were misled to believe certain things would happen if they had faith in the Reagan program."
But Jones, who appeared on "Meet the Press" (NBC, WRC), said the damage done by the article transcended party lines.
"The American people have lost faith in government and in promises of the government, and this particular thing just added to that," he claimed.
Quite a different view was voiced by Felix Rohatyn, an investment banker and a Democrat who spearheaded the recent campaign to save New York City from bankruptcy.
Saying that he was not surprised at Stockman's critical views of the Reagan program, Rohatyn commented, "I think that anybody that doesn't have doubts about an economic program just doesn't live in the real world."
Rohatyn was interviewed on the show "This Week With David Brinkley" (ABC, WJLA).
Rep. Jones, while criticizing the Reagan economic program and saying "problems are growing every day," was not ready to put forward a Democratic alternative.
"There is still a feeling that the president's program should have time to work, and I agree with that," he said.
Meanwhile, at the Miami convention of the National Association of Realtors, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul A. Volcker told skeptical members of the audience that the depressed housing industry would be in even worse shape if the Fed agreed to their call for loosened restraints on money growth.
"The industry has borne more than its fair share of the pain," Volcker said in a speech. "You have the most to gain by carrying the fight through."
Earlier, the convention had called for a somewhat higher growth in the money supply than the Fed has been willing to allow.
Reflecting the fact that the industry is in its worst depression since World War II, only about 10,000 realtors were on hand for the convention, a sharp drop from the 27,000 four years ago when the housing industry was healthy.