This is in response to a reader's request for a long-term look at the unemployment rate and recessions. I think that no matter how you slice it, the recovery (in terms of jobs and the unemployment rate) has been slower this time around than following any other recession. This has been a deep recession (people are now referring to it as "The Great Recession") and a painfully slow recovery. Calculated Risk has a nice chart which makes the point clearly:
See also Mark Perry's post on the subject of recessions and recoveries.