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'Jobs gap' won't close till 2020

March 12, 2012: 1:29 PM ET
jobs gap

It could take until 2020 to eliminate the jobs gap.

Though employers are finally hiring again, it could take until 2020 to get employment back to pre-recession levels.

The new estimate of the jobs gap, released Monday by Brookings' Hamilton Project, is

based on a relatively rosy monthly job creation estimate of 208,000. (That's the average rate for 2005, which was the best year of job creation in the 2000s.)

While that may sound optimistic, job growth has been on a winning streak, hitting above that mark for the last three months. In February, the economy created 227,000 new jobs.

The "jobs gap" includes positions lost during the Great Recession, as well as new ones that must be created to accommodate a growing population.

As of February, the nation faces a jobs gap of more than 11 million positions -- 5 million from jobs lost since 2007 and another 6 million for new entrants into the labor force. Before the recession began, the unemployment rate was 4.7%.

In its initial jobs gap calculation, done in May 2010, The Hamilton Project forecast that America would eliminate its jobs gap by 2017. But the weak recovery and changing demographics prompted the project to lower its estimate for monthly job creation and extend the time needed to return to pre-recession levels.

Have you gotten off public assistance -- such as food stamps or housing vouchers -- in the past five years? Email realstories@cnnmoney.com with your contact information and you could be contacted for an upcoming story or video.

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