It's been a while since we meandered over to the Bureau of Labor Statistics looking for a good time. Job news has, as we all know, been grim for a good long stretch. But yesterday it was that very governmental arm that offered a whiff of hope to the 15 million or more—depending on how you count them—Americans looking for work.
The ratio of the number of job hunters for every available post dipped to 5.9 to 1 last December, down slightly from 6.4 to 1 in November. That's the lowest the ratio has been since June of 2009. And there were additional encouraging signs: employers posted a total of 2.5 million jobs to be filled in December, nudging up from 2.4 million in November.
Yes, these are modest gains but they are gains, nonetheless. The picture, however, was far from perfect: The total number of hires—around 4 million—was down a little from the previous month. We've written recently about the job-production efforts of the current administration. And President Obama continues to stress the vital importance of improving prospects for the unemployed. It's a long road back but maybe some day we will once again turn routinely to the Bureau of Labor Statistics to cheer us up when we are feeling blue.