We have a long way to go if we are going to create enough jobs to get us back to where we were before the four quarter of 2007. Since that time the economy has shed 7.2 million jobs.
The most recent forecasts (from the Washington State Revenue and Economic Forecast Council) would indicate that it would take us until the end of 2012 to replace those lost jobs (Using the most recent economic forecast by our state's Economic Forecast and Revenue Council for 2009-2011 and assuming 3% growth in 2012). Unfortunately, the labor force will continue to grow during this period - probably by nearly another 6 million jobs - thus unemployment could continue to be high.
The Wall Street Journal paints an even more dire picture. For them, assuming today's slow growth rates it will take us to 2016 to replace lost jobs - a very unlikely scenario. (perhaps poorly thought through).
There are two scenarios here. One is that the forecasts are wrong. That employment growth will be more similar to previous recoveries growing at 4 to 5% each year over the next couple of years. For example, using the 1982-85 employment growth rates, we would be very close to the pre-recession employment rate by the end of 2012.
If the forecast is right, we need to be aggressive about unemployment insurance policies, the safety net and job creation. As aggressive as we have ever been before.