During the economic collapse that began in 2007 and now often referred to as the Great Recession, the United States shed an astonishing 8.4 million jobs, according to federal statistics. The official national unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent in October 2010 but had dropped to 8.1 percent in April 2012. However economists say the true rate is higher when discouraged workers who have given up looking for work are taken into account. Despite signs the economy is slowly recovering, job growth remains spotty creating problems not only for unemployed workers and their families but for politicians as well. The administrations of President George W. Bush and his successor, Barack Obama, both poured hundreds of billions of dollars into stopping the financial collapse and attempting to stimulate the economy. From critics of various stripes said it was too much or too little or a sop to the banks and financiers at the heart of the troubles. The latest extension of unemployment compensation for workers who have exhausted state benefits took effect on March 1, 2012, and runs through the end of the year.