Is the Job Market Improving?


You want the good news or the bad news first? Hey, it's Friday and this is The Upswing so let's go with good news first! The national unemployment rate dropped to a five-month low of 9.7% in January, suggesting perhaps that the labor market will soon take a turn for the better. And yesterday, you'll recall, we pointed you to the places with the best ratios of applicants per job opening.

Now the less spectacularly wonderful news: The Labor Department revised layoff figures from recent months, nudging December's job losses from the previously reported 85,000 to 150,000 and November from 4,000 to 64,000.

The $64,000 question on everyone's mind at this point is, which way are things going to go? Will the unemployment rate rise back up, to as high as 11%, as some are predicting? Or is January's good news—a relatively modest 20,000 jobs disappeared last month—a harbinger of a happier time?

That $30 billion the White House is hoping to pump into small businesses should help guide us toward the latter. But it will take more hard work and ingenuity than that to keep the good times rolling.

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  • Jessie Jacob

    Aaron is right. We can't cope up with our lost as soon as our economy gets better. Businesses need to adjust from their finances cause it seems that they need to start all over again. Maybe people need to venture out with other opportunities. I'm pretty sure that they can still find ways to earn money for their living aside from working in a company.Jessie Jacob

  • Aaron Cole

    My wife and I were laid off at the same time from two different companies. From our prospective it's not getting better, it's getting worse. We both worked in bookstores and when the customers found out about us closing they would tell us their stories of how long they've been out of work (most over a year now). Even if the economy's starting to recover the jobs aren't coming back. That was the worst case scenario economist envisioned and it's starting to come to fruition. The only thing you can do is get retrained in another field or start your own business. Everything else is history.