Brookings has a good report on just how long it will take to return employment to a normal level:
In recent months, on this blog, we described the job gap -- the number of jobs it would take to return to employment levels from before the Great Recession, while also accounting for the 125,000 people who enter the labor force in a typical month. After today's employment numbers, the job gap stands at almost 11.3 million jobs.
How long will it take to erase this gap? If future job growth continues at a rate of roughly 208,000 jobs per month, the average monthly job creation for the best year for job creation in the 2000s, it would take 136 months (more than 11 years). In a more optimistic scenario, with 321,000 jobs created per month, the average monthly job creation for the best year in the 1990s, it would take over 57 months (almost 5 years).
I'm not the first person to make this point, but this is a social catastrophe that large parts of the establishment have deemed basically acceptable. They're not in favor of mass unemployment. But they don't consider it a real emergency, like a war or natural disaster, than justifies huge spending to lift us out of it. It's hard to escape the conclusion that this attitude reflects the enormous distance between elite circles, where unemployment is fairly low, and less-educated communities that are experiencing a real depression.