Brace yourself: We have good news about the economy.
The Labor Department has released data showing that the jobless rate in the United States is at 8.6%, its lowest point in 2.5 years.
Employers added 120,000 new jobs, mostly in retail, restaurants and bars, and in the health care industry.
Now fodder for the cynics: A large part of this low jobless rate is the elimination of 315,000 people from the workforce who have simply given up looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed. There are still 13.3 million unemployed, and the recent gain in jobs is largely seasonal, as temporary positions in retail and restaurants surge around the holidays.
Despite the negative qualifiers and the rather dismal outlook for the next year (President Obama is expected to head into an election year with the highest unemployment rate since WWII, and the European debt crisis will likely cast a shadow over economic growth), we're pretty starved for good news about the economy.
So today, we're clinging to good news. And the good news is that 120,000 more people have jobs.
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