The year 2011 was filled with ominous new reports of national debt problems, continued foreclosure problems, increased bankruptcy filings and a staggering unemployment rate. After much debate about how to alleviate such problems and prevent abuse of government assistance programs, very little conclusion was reached by the year’s end. However, a new report about the unemployment rate brings some surprisingly good news in an otherwise dismal time.
Is It A Sign?
The Labor Department reported that payrolls increased by 200,000 in the month of December. Taking the lead as the biggest rise in new jobs in the last quarter of 2011, the outcome exceeded the expectations of economists and hopes of citizens. With the addition of these jobs also came a drop in the unemployment rate to 8.7, down nearly 1 full percent since the same time the year before. Investment strategist Jim Baird said, “While positive, it’s important to contain optimism about the outlook in the months ahead. The economy is still pushing forward, but many hurdles to further acceleration remain.”
This sentiment says a lot about the majority of Americans, who are still holding their breath for a more indicative sign of overall improvement. It is estimated that 23.7 Americans are still unemployed or underemployed. At the rate produced by the December numbers, it could take over two years for employment to return to its pre-downturn status. The true hope lies in accelerated job growth, if the country is to have a true chance at recovery.