The stubbornly high unemployment rate has many critics pondering whether the U.S. can once again be the great job-creation engine it once was.
Though the nation has added an average 157,000 jobs each month since the recovery began in early 2010, the economy has to add 165,000 jobs each month for two years just to return to December 2007's level of employment, according to analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan think-tank.
Further, CBPP says, the economy would have to generate even more jobs to reach full employment, "since the population and potential labor force are now larger."
To date, the economy has recovered just 4.8 million -- a bit more than half -- of the 8.7 million jobs lost from the start of recession in December 2007 to early 2010. As a result, CBPP says, nonfarm payrolls were 4 million fewer in December than they were at the start of the recession.
According to The Economist, at the pace of job growth recorded during the last two years, the economy won't regain its pre-recession level of employment, of about 138 million jobs, until March 2015. Still, that level of employment would equate to an unemployment rate of 6 to 6.6 percent, significantly below recent estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that put the nation's "full-employment" rate at 5.5 percent.
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