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by SixFigureStart | January 08, 2010


Is the latest unemployment figure good news or bad news? Sure, ten percent is still around double where we'd like to see it, but for the number not to have risen after falling in November serves as an indication that things aren't getting any worse.

Of course, that's not to say that things are getting better: the Labor Department report indicated that 85,000 jobs were still eliminated from the economy in December. The fact that that's not statistically significant enough to budge the overall number a fraction of a percentage point does nothing to help that 85,000 back to work. (If you want an idea of how many people that is, the recently closed Giants stadium here in New York couldn't have seated all of them).

Still, when considered as a fraction of 2009's whole, December really wasn't that bad. Reuters puts the final job loss figure for the year at 4.2 million, of which 85,000 is a mere 2 percent. Given that revised figures show the economy actually added 11,000 jobs in November, you begin to get a sense of how bad things were for the remaining ten months of the year: an average of over 410,000 jobs lost every single month. (By the by: if you add the entire populations—men, women and children—of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota and Delaware, you're still around 40,000 short of 4.2 million.)

All told, then, a flat unemployment picture seems like good news right now—further indication that we've hit a plateau from which to launch a recovery.

--Posted by Phil Stott,


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