MFE: What's will employment look like in 2009?
ACB: Our current forecast calls for total employment to bottom out in the third quarter of 2009 at slightly less than 136 million jobs, a loss of about 2 million jobs since the end of 2007. The unemployment rate is forecast to cap in the first quarter of 2010 at around 7.8 percent.
MFE: How will the downturn affect the apartment market?
ACB: Although apartment rents declined briefly during the 2001 to 2002 downturn, they have not done so as of the second quarter of 2008. We are forecasting that the vacancy rate for all rentals will top out at the end of 2009 at slightly more than 10 percent.
MFE: Describe the recovery.
ACB: For the country as a whole, the job market recovery should be fairly quick, and the economy should regain all of the jobs it lost and will lose by the fourth quarter of 2010. Of course, some regions, such as Rhode Island and Michigan, will not recover as quickly. By the end of 2010, housing inventory should also return to its equilibrium level that it had before the price bubble.
MFE: What is the No. 1 thing apartment owners should be optimistic about in 2009?
ACB: Not much. Apartment rents have gone up fairly steadily into mid-2008, but that may no longer be the case in the coming year.