A graph from Brookings that's been going around the various liberal blogs today:
Short version: We're fucked. We are facing a decade of high unemployment.
Longer version: What the graph shows is how long it will take to close the jobs gap based on the average number of jobs created per month. The jobs gap is the sum of the number of jobs lost during the recession and the number of new workers who have entered the workforce. That current number stands a bit above 11 million. This is how many workers we have to employ to get back to "normal" levels of unemployment.
Note that the graph calls out certain points. If we have job growth equal to the average monthly job growth in the best year of the previous decade (2005), it takes over ten years for the unemployment gap to close. And that's a somewhat rosy scenario.
Right now job growth is sitting around 140k per month. This is barely enough to cover new entrants to the labor force (125k-144k per month).
That graph is pretty much the case for further economic stimulus. Without something to kickstart this economy into gear we are facing a prolonged period of joblessness. Unemployment isn't just an abstract number - it implies tremendous amounts of suffering and long-term damage to workers, families, and our economy.