Despite optimism over recent job gains, one grim statistic casts a long shadow over the recovering economy -- a record 44% of the nation's 15 million unemployed have been out of work for more than six months.
And the evidence suggests that many of them may never completely rebuild the working lives they lost.
Never since the Great Depression has the U.S. labor market seen anything like it. The previous high in long-term unemployment was 26% in June 1983, just after the deep downturn of the early 1980s. The 44% rate in March translates into more than 6.5 million people.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of these workers have been jobless for a year or longer, new Labor Department reports show.
On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told the congressional Joint Economic Committee that he was "particularly concerned" about the huge number of long-term unemployed.
"Long periods without work erode individuals' skills and hurt future employment prospects," he said. "Younger workers may be particularly adversely affected if a weak labor market prevents them from finding a first job or from gaining important work experience."
I don't understand the buoyancy of the market. Many of the jobs lost will never return because of the change to structure. High paid union manufacturing jobs are not coming back. St Louis for instance has lost car and plane making jobs and now brewery jobs. Never returning as they were.
7 million households are on track to be foreclosed.
States will have to lay off teachers, police, road workers and civil servants - all this is ahead and on its way.
So why is it now that the Dow is at 11,000?
Two Americas maybe? The casino economy and the rest?