• Persistent high unemployment: The jobless rate will drop only to 9 percent by the end of 2011 – more than two years after the recession ended, according to an Associated Press survey of leading economists. The rate is 9.6 percent now.
• Slow-motion: The economy will end this year on weaker footing than it started. The economy is expected to grow at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the current October-December quarter, compared with a 3.7 percent pace in the first quarter of the year.
• Dodging another downturn: 98 percent of the economists surveyed don’t foresee the U.S. sliding back into a recession.
• Thursday’s jobless report: Applications for jobless benefits dropped by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 434,000 in the week that ended Oct. 23, the Labor Department said. It was the second-lowest number for first-time claims this year. The only time it was lower was during the July 10 week, and that week was affected by the Independence Day holiday when state unemployment offices were closed. Unemployment claims have fluctuated around 450,000 for most of this year.