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Job seekers wait in line at the Choice Career Fair held at the Doubletree Hotel in Dallas, Texas. - 


Bob Moon: It's the monthly report that economists pay attention to the most these days -- U.S. employment numbers. In just a few hours, the Department of Labor releases its jobs data for February -- and forecasters expect our economy added more jobs than we've seen in a long time. But is it what we need to get back to pre-recession levels?

Marketplace's Jennifer Collins tells us, don't count on it:

Jennifer Collins: Georgetown University economist Harry Holzer says our economy needs to add more than 250,000 jobs a month, and even then, it would take five years to drop below 5 percent unemployment. The last time we saw growth like that was in the tech boom of the '90s.

Harry Holzer: Well, it was kind of fun, frankly.

Holzer was chief economist at the Department of Labor back then.

Holzer: Because it was not hard to crow about those numbers.

Will economists ever have something to crow about?

Holzer: It's possible we could see that again.

But not probable, says Sylvia Allegretto, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sylvia Allegretto: No one is expecting to have job growth any time soon that is going to come close to what we saw in, say, the boom times of the late 1990s.

With the rising price of oil, cutbacks in state budgets and the slow pace of hiring among private companies, she says it's unlikely we'll drop below 7 percent unemployment for several years.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.