The jobs crisis is an oft-discussed topic on the campaign trail, and it is likely to come up tonight in President Obama's State of the Union address, but it can still be hard to fathom exactly how many Americans are unemployed.
In total, 13.1 million are still out of work and looking for a job. Many others have already given up and dropped out of the workforce. And the the unfortunate job climate is clearly on Americans' minds. A recent poll from Politico found that 82 percent of the nation believes finding ways to create jobs should be the top priority of politicians in Washington.
Though recent jobs news may indicate that the labor market is turning around, the overall picture still remains somewhat grim. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it still has a long way to go before hitting pre-recession levels of under 5 percent. The financial industry alone cut 2,000 jobs last month, while pharmaceutical company Novartis recently cut almost the same amount.
To put it into perspective, there are currently more unemployed people living in America than the entire populations of several major cities including Beijing and Sao Paulo. In fact, the city proper populations of both New York and Los Angeles combined don't exceed the number of people looking for a job in the U.S., according to statistics provided by United Nations.
Though Obama will likely make reference to the millions of unemployed Americans during his speech tonight, it won't be the first time he's felt pressure to address the issue. After his American Jobs Act largely stalled due to Republican opposition in Congress, Obama recently proposed tax credits to businesses for hiring workers at home, an attempt to bring exported jobs back to American soil. But as the Associated Press points out, the plan differs little from a similar one he proposed during his State of the Union address two years ago.
If Obama wants to go on to a second term, he better hope his jobs plan works. Ronald Reagan is the only president since World War II to win second term with an unemployment rate above 6 percent on Election Day, Bloomberg reports.