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May 25 2010   12:19AM GMT

The Creeping Pace of Change and Improvement

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I got a real sense of the way things will apparently be turning around in our economy last Friday, when my local paper reported with some fanfare “Austin job numbers improving” as the local employment rate finally edged into positive territory. To get a sense of what I mean, take a look at this chart:

Unemployment drops to 7%, and jobs grow by 0.1% for April 2010

Unemployment drops to 7%, and jobs grow by 0.1% for April 2010

Unemployment dipped slightly for the Austin metro area, but the “big news” was that jobs actually swung into positive territory for the first time since 2006. 01% isn’t much to crow about, to be sure, but the move into positive territory is the kind of swing lots of economists have been looking for — and that lots of other metropolitan areas would also be happy to see (particularly in the Northeast US and in the proverbial “rust belt” states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and so forth).

I’m not sure this is noteworthy, except perhaps as yet another small and tentative signs of actual improvement. We still have a long way to go, but this indeed is the corner we’ve been trying to turn for some time now. We’d also better get used to this corner, because it’s likely to stay in sight for some time yet, even if we don’t find ourselves circling around it for a while before moving away from it again (hopefullly, into positive territory for once and for all).

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