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Here’s a somber thought: The United States may never — or at least not anytime soon — regain “full employment,” meaning an unemployment rate between, say, 4 percent and 5.5 percent. It is now four years from the recovery’s start, and the number of jobs is still 2.2 million below the pre-recession peak. Since World War II, this has never happened. After the harsh 1981-82 recession, employment recouped lost ground in 12 months.

Economists are searching for an explanation, and one recent candidate seems surprising: high tech.

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