<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Francis Wilkinson</p> <p>The U.S. economy beat expectations last month, adding 200,000 jobs in December. That means the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-06/u-s-payrolls-gain-more-than-expected-200-000-jobless-rate-falls-to-8-5-.html">jobs picture</a> is slightly less grim this month. Slightly.</p> <p>Here's the Hamilton Project's <a href="http://www.hamiltonproject.org/papers/shrinking_job_opportunities/">assessment</a> of prospects for the unemployed:</p> <blockquote><p>No matter how long a worker has been unemployed, the odds that they find a job are far lower than before the recession. Furthermore, the odds of experiencing long-term unemployment are highly related to losing a job in a particularly hard-hit industry, like construction or manufacturing, and are disproportionately concentrated in certain distressed states.</p></blockquote> <p>The jobs gap is still 12.1 million jobs. At a rate of 208,000 new jobs per month, it will take slightly more than 12 years to close that gap, according to the Hamilton Project, a public policy group started in 2006 by the Brookings Institution. For the unemployed, the U.S. labor market remains the worst since the Great Depression.</p> <p>(Francis Wilkinson is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.)</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </body> </html>