Melinda Pitts, research economist and associate policy adviser at the Atlanta Fed, looks at the data:

If the current recession ended today with a 2.7 percent job decline, and postrecession employment growth resembled the recovery from the 1981–82 recession, then employment would return to prerecessionary levels in approximately 14 months. But if the employment growth path is more similar to the two most recent recessions, then it would take well over eight years for employment to return to prerecession levels. Of course, history is unlikely to repeat itself exactly, but what history does tell us is that the employment recovery will lag the recovery in overall economic activity, and possibly by a lot.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.