The New York Times visualized here three scenarios for how long it will be before we get back to the 1990-2007 percentage of the US population over age 16 that is working. Clearly, if we continue adding jobs at the 2010 pace, the answer is never--an ever-shrinking fraction of our population will have to generate all the personal income that will support all of us, meaning that on average American families will have less and less income every year. If jobs are added at the same rate they were during the "recovery" years of 2004-07, it will take until about 2027 to get back to the baseline percentage of the population in jobs. Even if we suddenly start to add jobs at the highest rate we ever did in the last 20 years--the brightest scenario that anyone can even imagine--the percentage of people working will still be below baseline until 2016.
Our two major political parties agree that nothing substantial can be done, or should be done, to improve these outcomes. Both parties are saying, in effect, that they will be better at managing America's economic decline. Doesn't this create a big opening for a third party with a commitment to, and a believable plan for, rapid growth in employment and real wages to restore the prosperity of the 1990s? I'd join.
Based on what some say is a "strong" jobs report today, employment will return to the baseline level by 2030 or so, according to Paul Krugman's estimate.
Here, Paul Krugman uses FRED data to demonstrate Okun’s Law—the relationship between growth and unemployment. He finds that it takes 2.5% annual GDP growth to keep the unemployment rate from increasing and 2 additional percentage points of growth each year to bring down the unemployment rate 1%.
Put it this way: suppose that from here on out we average 4.5 percent growth, which is way above any forecast I’ve seen. Even at that rate, unemployment would be close to 8 percent at the end of 2012, and wouldn’t get below 6 percent until midway through Sarah Palin’s first term.