For the 9.1 percent of Americans who are officially unemployed -- and the millions more who can get only part-time work or who have given up the job hunt in frustration -- there are no easy solutions.
They are in real pain, and even if our nation adopted the wisest economic policies today, it would be awhile before they would see much relief from unemployment.
But that is clearly no reason to double down on bad economic policies.
President Barack Obama, like everyone else, realizes the gravity of the unemployment problem. So his response, touted loudly in recent weeks, is a "jobs bill" that would cost nearly half a trillion dollars.
But would that lower joblessness -- when the far larger previous stimulus of $862 billion didn't?
Obama wants to cut payroll taxes for workers and business. That would surely be popular. He also wants to spend more on public works projects to make jobs. And he wants a lot of spending to protect certain government jobs.
In addition, he wants some tax increases, which surely would do nothing to reduce unemployment. He wants to raise taxes on some individuals and companies, and close some tax loopholes.
Congressional Republicans say they are for cutting payroll taxes, but they don't want to spend more money, nor raise taxes. Even some Democrats in Congress oppose Obama's proposed tax hikes.
At any rate, all this is more or less an academic debate. There is virtually no likelihood that Obama's plan will pass in Congress, and that is a relief. But so long as the twin threats of heavier federal regulation and higher taxes linger, businesses will have a disincentive to invest.
And sadly, that will mean low job creation.