The unemployment report is out, and it looks like we're recovering from The Great Recession ever so slightly -- but still below economists' expectations and, overall, we're not in very good shape yet. As if trying to meet a New Year's resolution, the U.S. economy managed to add 36,000 jobs last month. (The target was 146,000.) The reason we didn't reach the goal?
Yup, snow/ice storms/sleet/hail and small animals falling from the sky in many parts of the country "may have impacted employment and hours in construction and some other industries," the labor department said.
But the good news: The unemployment rate fell to a two-year low of 9 percent. The largest employment growth was experienced by people who work in manufacturing (+49,000), retail and wholesale trade (+36,700), and professional and business services (+31,000).
Also, here's something I found particularly intriguing ... the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that January was the fourth consecutive month that more employees said, "Screw you guys, I'm going home!" versus waitin' around to hear their bosses do their best impression of The Don (Trump, that is) and say, "You're fired!"
Now, some might say the quitters are crazy. Around this time last year, you might have been at risk for being locked up in a mental institution if you voluntarily quit a job. Because the state of things had us shaking our heads in disdain at anyone who dared kvetch about disliking their employer. "So what if you hate your job? Suck it up! You should feel lucky just to HAVE a job!"
But now, it's been a good two-plus years since our economy went "Kerthunk!" into the toilet. Plenty of us have seen friends/relatives/husbands/co-workers laid off, or we've been laid off ourselves. And many of us have gone on to be even happier than we were when we were in a job that was joyless or unrewarding (literally and figuratively).
I know of several cases where getting laid off turned out to be a total blessing in disguise for someone. Because they got fired, they landed a gig where they doubled their previous salary. Because they got fired, they thrived as freelancers or entrepreneurs. Because they got fired, they went back to school, then successfully navigated an entirely new career landscape.
Success stories like these may have helped more of us start to realize, "Hey, it won't be the end of the world if I say 'see ya' to this employer who has me walking on eggshells!"
Obviously, the economy and the world of employment will never be the same, but it's not dying, it's evolving. The new economy seems fit for people to make money in ways that prize innovation and independence.
All I'm saying is ... I'm seeing the bright side in this economic downturn. I think, by pushing ourselves further and in previously unexplored directions, we can all bounce back and see that nasty 9 percent go down slowly but surely.
What do you think about the new unemployment report?
Image via Burt Lum/Flickr