As we head into the election year, it is worth noting that no American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2 percent.

Not all has been bad news: the unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent in November and, in seven of the past eight weeks, initial jobless claims have been below the 400,000 mark -- a level economists note marks the threshold between a stagnant and growing job market.

However, this series of charts on the U.S. employment situation paints a rather grim picture. 

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