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The number of people working part-time involuntarily because they could not find full-time work fell in December to the lowest level since January 2009, and "fell by 1.17 million in the past three months, the biggest decline over a similar period since early 1994, figures from the Labor Department show."

That's a hopeful sign for the families directly affected, for the businesses they'll be able to support with newly full-time incomes, and for the economy as a whole. How do you not cheer this:

Beatrice Barry, a 37-year-old single mother, said her new full-time job enabled her to brighten the holidays for her two daughters.

“It’s a good feeling to have the financial security,” said Barry, who found full-time work in November at the Society of Nuclear Medicine in Reston, Virginia.

But, lest we forget, this marked improvement still exists in a grim context. As Meteor Blades pointed out last week, looking at the same figures, "About 50,000 Americans left the labor force in December" and:

If job creation were to continue at this level, it would take until July 2014 to return to the number of Americans who were employed in December 2007 when the recession started.

As Calculated Risk has observed, "Expectations are so low that the U.S. economic data last week looked 'good'" and, referring to auto sales but applicable to several categories, "Even a 'bright spot' is still weak." But when it's been dark for three years, a tiny flicker of light is welcome.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jan 09, 2012 at 10:05 AM PST.

Also republished by Good News.

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