Jobs were a signature issue of the 2012 elections. And they're likely to be so in the 2014 midterm and 2016 presidential contests as well.
That's because the jobless rate may not return to its pre-recession levels of 5-6 percent for another five to 10 years.
President Barack Obama clearly has benefited politically from the drop in the jobless rate from its peak of 10 percent in October 2009 to just below 8 percent on Election Day. The Labor Department Friday said that the rate dropped still more — to 7.7 percent in November from October's 7.9 percent.
The White House quickly hailed "further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal."
But Alan Krueger, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, also acknowledged "more work remains to be done."
Recovery from the 2008-2009 recession is at the slowest pace since the post-Great Depression period. Economic growth has averaged a shade over 2 percent so far this year. The latest White House forecast sees it rising to only 2.7 percent in 2013.
Major private forecasts don't see growth above 3 percent or unemployment below 7 percent until 2015 at the earliest.