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Robust job growth. If the latest trends hold, then we've crossed a key threshold, with employers now adding jobs on net instead of eliminating them. But we're in a huge hole, with more than 8 million jobs lost since 2007 and 15 million Americans still out of work. Employers added nearly 300,000 jobs in the latest month, which is obviously good news, but at that pace of growth it will take far too long for jobs to return and consumers to feel comfortable. Forecasting firm Decision Economics predicts that over the next three years, just 4.4 million new jobs will be created--barely half the number lost during the recession--which will still leave the unemployment rate above 8 percent in 2013. That's unnerving, because weak job growth means incomes will stagnate, consumers won't spend, and the whole economy will remain fragile. More government spending could help create jobs, except that massive federal deficits are already spooking the markets, and adding to them could do more harm than good.

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