As the Labor Department issues the latest numbers on the nation's unemployment rate today, this first data of this mid-term election year will be a very important piece of data come the November elections.
In November, the jobless rate dropped down to 10%, from a high of 10.2% in October.
Those type of numbers are not what Democrats want to see in the months ahead, one reason that the White House is ready with all kinds of statistics to throw back at reporters when asked about the unemployment rate.
"I think if you look at where we have been on the jobs front in January of 2009 and where we were in the report in November of 2009, we've gone from losing 741,000 jobs a month to losing 11,000 jobs a month," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
"We're not certainly where we want to be, but we've made marked improvement," Gibbs argued at a briefing with reporters this week.
While Democrats have their facts and figures, the Republicans do as well.
"More than three million Americans have lost their jobs since the President signed the trillion-dollar 'stimulus' that was supposed to keep unemployment below 8 percent and put people back to work 'immediately', razzed House GOP Leader John Boehner last month.
"I am confident our economy will ultimately recover, but it will do so because of the hard work and entrepreneurship of the American people, not wasteful Washington spending," said Boehner.
That's the lay of the land right now - and certainly by November - the jobless number is going to be a very important one.
The last unemployment figure we will get before the November elections will be on the first Friday in October, reflecting the jobless numbers in September of 2010.
So that's eight more jobs reports from the federal government after today.
If that figure stays in double digits, it may well be a long year for Democrats, and one with great promise for Republicans at the ballot box.