Another month, another disappointing employment report. According to the BLS, ex-census payrolls declined on net by 18,000 during September (and the prior two months were also revised downward) and the unemployment rate continued to hold at a stubbornly-high level of 9.6 percent. In the past year, the economy has added 334,000 payrolls—an average of less than 30K per month—and total employment is nearly 7.8 million below its December 2007 peak. For the sake of illustration, even if payroll employment growth jumped to a monthly average of 225,000 jobs, it would take nearly 3 years to reach the pre-recession employment peak. Given the lackluster performance of the labor market to date, it comes as no surprise that unemployment spells remain excruciatingly long. Indeed, 41.7 percent of unemployed workers have been without a job for at least 27 weeks and the median length of an unemployment spell during September 2010 was 20.4 weeks.

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