However, there are some complications in arriving at it. One is that the proportion of the adult population involved in the labor force is not a constant even beyond the swings related to economic activity.
Excluding cyclical activity, the employment to population ratio clearly was in an up trend from the early 1970s to the late 1990s as more women entered the labor force. However, it is possible that this has started to slide into reverse, but it is hard to tell at the moment given the enormous magnitude of this recession. If the employment to population ratio is actually in decline, this somewhat lowers the threshold of necessary job creation. Let's say for the sake of argument that the average of the employment to population ratio from March of 2001 (the start of the last recession) to December 2007 (the start of this recession) is a decent proxy for a healthy participation rate. That works out to be 62.79% or so. If we take that percentage and multiply it by the adult non-institutional population, we get something like this:
This is household survey data rather than the headline establishment survey data we generally see in the press. It's harder to turn establishment survey data into these sorts of numbers, but that doesn't mean that I won't try. In any case, by this measure, the employment gap is approximately 10,712,000. This gap gets worse by about 122k a month with no job creation.
Just for the sake of comparison, let's do something one should never do and compare establishment survey data to this and mix some data sets. This is a big no-no, but it's to try to put the headline number of +151k in context.
The employment gap isn't necessary to close in order to restore growth, but until it starts narrowing a great deal you are going to have substantial downward pressures on wages. The prospects for generalized inflation with this much slack in the labor market are quite low.