The nation's unemployment rate has dropped four straight months, according to the latest Labor Department report.
In December, the jobless rate fell by a tenth of a point to 8.5 percent and employers add new 200,000 jobs.
Jack Marquardt is one job seeker who benefited from the positive numbers. After four months with no job, he's back at work as a consultant.
"It was a fabulous late Christmas present, and it is a great way to start the new year," Marquardt said.
December's new jobs helped bring the total for 2011 to 1.6 million. And economists believe the United States will see 2.1 million new jobs this year.
But is it enough? Some experts warn the nation still has a long way to go to really recover from the recession.
Click play for analysis from Kereakos Zuras, former George W. Bush advisor and author of 'How to Succeed When Everyone Else is Failing.'
"You'll always have this 'yes, but' reality. Yeah, we gained 200,000 jobs, but we need seven or eight million to get back to where we were," explained Daniel Gross of Yahoo! Finance.
Many economists are also urging caution in understanding the unemployment numbers.
Some are concerned that the gains reflect temporary hiring for the holidays -- although the Labor Department tries to adjust its numbers for this.
Another concern is that the decline in the unemployment rate could be mostly due to the size of the work force declining.
Still, the White House is welcoming the new report.
Some analysts believe President Barack Obama's re-election bid hinges mostly on the direction the unemployment rate is going on Election Day.
But others say the rate itself is important. No president has won re-election with an unemployment rate above 7.2 percent.