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Struggling economy shows some signs of improvement

Massachusetts residents may be pleased to hear that last month, managers created an additional 165,000 jobs, bringing the nation's unemployment rate down to 7.5 percent, the lowest since the beginning of the "Great Recession". The report came as a pleasant surprise to economy watchers who say that the report was better than expected.

While it remains to be seen how this news will affect those currently struggling with financial challenges, we have reported previously that the number of those filing for bankruptcy has generally been trending downward. This may be another hopeful sign that the economic stagnation is finally coming to an end.

Hopefully, the economic turnaround will help hard-hit Massachusetts families get their finances in order without needing to go through bankruptcy. For those who do still need bankruptcy relief, additional employment opportunities could at least help those people make good use of the fresh financial start that bankruptcy affords.

However, not all of the recent economic news was cheery. At the same time that they added jobs, business owners apparently cut the length of the country's average work week slightly, as the average week feel from 34.6 hours to 34.4 hours. Moreover, the underemployment rate rose slightly, to 13.9 percent. The underemployment rate accounts not only for those who are looking for work but also for those who have given up altogether or who have settled on part-time employment.

Sudden unemployment is one of the most common reasons people file for personal bankruptcy protection, so any news that the unemployment rate is on the decline is welcome to most. However, assuming that this statistic is the sign of a broader economic recovery, it does not mean that no one will have to file a bankruptcy. Even in an improved economy, people may find themselves in financial hardship for a number of reasons and may want to then consider bankruptcy as an option.

Source: USA Today, "Economy gains 165,000 jobs; jobless rate, 7.5%," Paul Davidson, May 3, 2013

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