Krugman notes that we’d have to start doing something wildly different to get to full employment any time soon: “[S]uppose that from here on out we average 4.5 percent growth, which is way above any forecast I’ve seen. Even at that rate, unemployment would be close to 8 percent at the end of 2012, and wouldn’t get below 6 percent until midway through Sarah Palin’s first term.”
With regard to the Palin administration, it’s always worth noting that rates of change matter more than levels. Ronald Reagan won a landslide re-election on the strength of a nearly 7.5% unemployment rate so there’s no reason Barack Obama couldn’t win with 8 percent. In narrowly political terms, the problem is that the odds of doing even that well don’t look so great.