US employment: Some good news

Job seekers line up at a job fair held by National Career Fair on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

There's a good reason that economists poke, prod and pore over each month's US unemployment report: it's the most important indicator of economic strength in the consumer-driven US because people don't have confidence to spend if they don't have jobs.

And no spending means no economic growth. 

So in that spirit of numerical discovery, check out this latest fact from the US Labor Department, which highlights some rare good news for US job seekers:

At the end of September, there were 4.2 people looking for work for every job opening in America.

On the surface, that may sound high. But it's down from a year earlier, when there were 5.4 job seekers fighting for every opening. It's also the lowest number in almost three years.

Here's what this latest Labor Dept. figure looks like, chart-wise, which comes from the graphics artists at the Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog:

Number of unemployed per job opening

For more from Thomas Mucha on Twitter: