The good news: the U.S. economy added a net 151,000 new jobs in October. Private sector employers added 159,000 positions. The public sector lost 8,000. The bad news: the national unemployment rate has been essentially flat since May, holding at 9.6 percent. That's about 14.8 million unemployed people. About 6.2 million (41.8 percent) of the jobless have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. (Some 1.01 million Californians are struggling with long-term unemployment, as reported in September by the state Employment Development Department.)
The Brookings Institution has been tracking the national employment situation through its Hamilton Project. In particular, it makes monthly estimates of the U.S. job gap, i.e."the number of jobs the economy needs to add in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while absorbing the 125,000 people who enter the labor force each month." Brookings researchers say the gap fell slightly from 11.9 million jobs in September to 11.8 million jobs in October.
Unfortunately the current job gap won't close any time soon. According to Brookings, if employment grows at a realistic 208,000 jobs a month (the average rate of growth during the best year of the 2000s), it would take 142 months (about 12 years) to recover to levels prior to the recent economic downturn.