The final employment numbers of 2016 close a strong year for hiring on a positive, if not underwhelming note, with a reported 156,000 new jobs added to the labor market in December.
December has historically been a modest month for hiring. Employers seeking seasonal help typically add staff in October or November, and companies looking to beef up their numbers for the new year wait until after the holidays.
In that context, the newest jobs numbers speak to a positive outlook for the year to come. Added to the much broader context of the post-recession economy, it provides a snapshot of how far hiring has come in the last eight years.
In January 2009, the first tremors of the recession began to really show. The economy began a steady tumble in the spring of 2008, due largely to the housing crisis.
Unemployment hit 7.8 percent in January 2009, then accelerated to 10 percent before the year's end.
It's been a steady climb back, but 2016 ends with unemployment of 4.7 percent, a jump of more than half from the worst point of the Great Recession.
Hiring in the last four years in particular has revved up. In January 2013, unemployment sat at 8 percent. The 3.3 percent drop since is the strongest since 1983 to 1986, when unemployment slashed from 10.4 to 6.7 percent.
Unemployment's now at its lowest point since the early 2000s, but that doesn't mean the job market is set to stall. Underemployment remains near 10 percent.
The next phase of marketplace improvement is more workers moving into full-time jobs, and other seekers finding higher wages. If you're looking for a change in 2017, search the CareerCast.com database.
You might find the right spot for you.