This post examines the WSJ Survey specifically looking at forecasts of the unemployment rate. Compared to previous posts on GDP, Fed Funds Rate, and Economic Risk, forecasters have high expectations for the future unemployment rate. In particular, they have become increasingly optimistic about 2018 relative to 2017.
The graph below depicts the average forecasted unemployment rate for each month since December 2015 across June and December in 2017 and 2018. The lines become darker the closer the forecast is to the present.
Forecasters are not just becoming optimistic about short-term unemployment, but they are also expecting the trend to continue for a year and a half. A year ago they were expecting the end of 2017 to be the low point in the unemployment rate. The current consensus forecast for December 2018 is 4.21 percent, a rate not seen since prior to the Dot Com bubble, however given the recent unemployment numbers (4.3%) this expectation seems plausible.
The upbeat unemployment forecasts put the more tepid GDP and interest rate forecasts in perspective. More than likely the most recent revisions are an overreaction to the strong April payroll employment numbers. The more recent May payroll and unemployment values send a more mixed message more consistent with previous GDP and interest rate forecasts.