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Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Jobs and the Economy: Time for Optimism?

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AP Photo/Julia Cumes

Is it just me, or is there a serious groundswell of optimism out there right now—both for the economy and the jobs market?

First, we have the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the European bailout—an action that provided a much-needed shot in the arm to a sector of the global economy that could have caused serious damage (read: guaranteed double-dip recession) if even a tiny part of it had gone under.

Then there are the unemployment and jobs reports. Sure, unemployment rose to 9.9 percent last month, but it did so in a month where the economy added 290,000 jobs. As Slate’s Daniel Gross points out, the unemployment rate rose “largely because people flooded back into the job market.” In case you’re still not sure if that’s a good thing, try looking at it this way: until recently, that 0.2 percent of the population were so discouraged by economic conditions that they couldn’t even be bothered looking for work. Now, they’re starting to believe that there are enough opportunities to make it worth their while searching again.

In the same article, Gross also points out that “Payroll jobs have now risen in five of the last six months, and the pace of growth is picking up steam. March and April 2010 have been the first two consecutive months of 200,000-plus jobs growth since November and December of 2006.” Remember when a quarter million jobs a month seemed like a pipe-dream? That was around 2 months ago. Now we’re there.

Even small business owners seem to be getting in on the act: a contributor to the New York Times‘ excellent You’re the Boss blog series rattled off a lengthy list of positive factors in today’s post before concluding that ” If you keep looking in the rear-view mirror and forget to look at what’s headed your way, not only might you miss a golden opportunity […] you might just give your competitors the chance to move ahead of you or, worse, to eat your lunch right out of your hands.” While his comments were addressed at fellow business leaders and owners, they apply equally to job seekers: there might not be as good a moment for some time to find that opportunity you’ve been looking for.

What do you think? Do you agree that things are looking up in the economy and the job market, or are we deluding ourselves? Have your say below or on Twitter.


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