Unemployment rates offer reason to cheer

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As we’ve been told many times, newspapers are notorious for spending an awful lot of time reporting bad news. So, how about we flip the script today and lead off with some positive notes?

The U.S. unemployment rate continues to fall – not nearly as quickly as any of us would like, but the decline is welcome nonetheless. The nation’s jobless rate in November was 7 percent – the lowest mark in five years.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped as well, to 8 percent in October. That’s down from 9.7 percent in October 2012.

Allow us to add a couple of caveats.

First, the unemployment rates still are too high, and there can be little doubt that they reflect a decline in the number of people eligible for unemployment benefits – whether they have found jobs or not.

But the number of jobs in the United States grew by more than 200,000 in November. North Carolina added 22,000 jobs during September and October – making it the state with the third-highest job growth rate in the country.

That news is something to cheer about unless you’re an unemployed person who has spent every week looking for jobs without success during an extended period of time.

The second caveat is steeped in politics, as almost any discussion of the economy tends to be.

Presidents and governors more than likely receive too much blame when the economy is in the dumps and too much credit when employment and gross domestic product are back on the rise.

Finally, the Dow Jones and Standard & Poor stock indices soon will close a record-shattering year. In this era of fewer pensions and more self-reliance on 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts, the performance of the market offers hope for anyone who dreams of retiring one day.

We now can return to the political grandstanding and finger-pointing that dominates so much of the news these days. But it was nice to ruminate for a few paragraphs on a couple of trends that are heading in a better direction.