High unemployment numbers are a sure sign of a terrible economic situation. People who aren't working aren't earning money, producing goods or spending money, and they're likely surviving on government subsidies. It's a good sign that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a decline in unemployment levels in January 2011, dropping to 9 percent from 9.4 percent in December 2010. The February jobs report was even better, with the unemployment rate dropping to 8.9 percent -- the lowest levels in nearly a year [source: CNNMoney.com].
Unfortunately, a different survey, this one by Gallup, indicates an increase in unemployment from 9.8 percent to 10 percent [source: Xuequan]. Gallup uses their own polling methods, separate from the government's statistics.
Is this good news or bad? Well, at least it's close enough for debate. From Oct. 2007 to Jan. 2010 unemployment rose from 4.4 percent to 10.6 percent [source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics]. Whichever numbers you trust, at least things are nowhere near that bad.