This morning’s release of the December 2011 employment situation report, which marked four years since the official start of the recession in December 2007, capped off 2011 on a positive note. Both the establishment survey and the household survey showed improvement — the labor market added 200,000 jobs, hours and wages were up, unemployment ticked down, underemployment dropped, and the duration of unemployment spells declined. This is a step in the right direction. However, it is important to note the context: the jobs deficit left from losses in 2008/2009 remains well over 10 million jobs; even at December’s growth rate, it would still take about seven more years — until around 2019 — to fill the gap and get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate. We need reports this strong and stronger for many years to come to bring our labor market back to health.