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Is that economic improvement we see? The Labor Department announced today that the unemployment rate dropped from 9.5 percent to 9.4 percent last month—even though analysts had been expecting it to increase—and while 247,000 American jobs were lost during July, that's the fewest number of losses since last August. It this evidence that things are going to be peachy keen from here on out? Not really.

Experts say the unemployment rate dropped, in part, because several hundred thousand people gave up on looking for a job and left the labor force. And the Obama administration is still preparing for the jobless rate to hit 10 percent before it begins to go down for good. But "the trend lines are positive," one economist tells the Times, which is a finance-y way of saying that there's light at the end of the tunnel.

It isn't only today's unemployment data that's trending in the right direction. AIG reported a profit for the second quarter today, and it's the first time we've seen that in close to two years! The company said it generated profits of $1.8 billion last quarter because business appears to be "stabilizing." But just like the jobless figures, it will be awhile before things really return to normal. AIG still happens to owe U.S. taxpayers $87.6 billion.

Job Losses Slow in July, Signaling Shift in the Economy [NYT]
AIG logs first quarterly profit since 2007 [CNN]