The U.S. is coming up on the three-year anniversary of the end of the 2008-2009 recession, which occurred in July 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the arbiters of recessions’ beginnings and ends. After eight months of continued job loss after the end of the recession, the private sector has managed to string together 27 consecutive months of net payroll gains totaling 4.3 million new jobs. Yet, the economy is still only about halfway toward recovering the nearly 8.8 million jobs lost as a result of the recession, which is more than the number of jobs lost in the previous three recessions (1981-82, 1990-91, and 2001) combined. Unfortunately, there are no signs of an imminent hiring boom. The latest NFIB survey of small businesses, which are critical to job creation, found that business owners expect the U.S.economy to get somewhat worse instead of better over the next six months. Further signs of sub-par hiring expectations can be seen in survey results released today by Manpower, which showed that while hiring prospects have improved slightly in the U.S., companies report that they will only add workers “when they have to.” What will have to happen before companies significantly increase hiring activity? How much longer might it take for employment levels to reach pre-recession levels? Considering the severity of the job losses during the recession, is it realistic to have expected a full recovery by now?