The Labor Department released new figures today which signals the U.S. economy is picking up. The U.S. added 200,000 jobs in December, which marks the sixth consecutive month the country showed a net gain of 100,000 jobs. The new jobs also brought with it a lower unemployment rate, which fell to 8.5%.

According to economists, this is just the latest positive development for the economy. While the jobless rate has been declining over the past few months, consumer confidence and consumer spending has increased.

Another good piece of news is that the drop in the jobless rate is due to various sectors adding jobs, not people dropping out of the job search. The New York Times reports, “The new jobs were spread broadly across industries, with transportation and warehousing, retail, manufacturing and restaurants all adding jobs.”

While economists feel the drop in the unemployment rate and the addition of new jobs is more than just a blip, they caution that the economy is still growing very slowly and is still vulnerable.

Despite the decline in the overall unemployment rate, the jobless rate for African Americans rose to 15.8% (up from 15.5%).

Although the economy is slowly recovering and millions are still out of work, economist predict that the public and private sectors will add approximately 2.1 jobs this year, up from 1.2 million last year.

So, are finally over “The Great Recession”? Not quite, but if these numbers are any indication, we’re on the way.

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