With the exception of financial companies, corporate profits in 2010 were the highest ever, which should bode well for U.S. job recovery, says NAI Global Chief Economist Peter M. Linneman. This could be a real stimulus for the economy, unlike government efforts which just shifted existing funds around, he says.

The problem so far is that this $1.3 trillion of excess cash isn't translating into new jobs. Linneman, who made his remarks during a Jan. 18 webcast, attributes the inactivity to uncertainty over political policies and regulation. But he adds that once corporations achieve a level of certainty, spending could pick up much quicker than people realize. I'm very optimistic about this happening, he says.

Yet, even if job growth returns to normal rates of approximately 1.7 million new jobs per year, it will take about five years to replace the 9 million lost jobs and absorb current vacant office space. About 85 percent of vacancies today are due to job loss, not overbuilding, Linneman says.

Jobs are also the catalyst for multifamily demand growth, says Linneman. With more than 2 million pent-up households, there will be more households than units waiting for them if the economy begins to add jobs at a more normal pace.

Source: Global Economic Outlook Web Conference, Peter Linneman, NAI Global (Jan 18, 2011)