20090109 unemployment 18
A job seeker looks through job listings at the East Bay Works One-Stop Career Center on Jan. 9, 2009, in Oakland, Calif. The unemployment rate in the U.S. surged to 7.2% in December, reaching its highest level in 16 years. - 


JEREMY HOBSON: Now let's get to the economic year that was and the year that will be.

Chris Low is chief economist at FTN Financial and he joins us live now as he does every Friday. Hi Chris.

CHRIS LOW: Good morning.

HOBSON: So what was the most important story in business in 2010 from your perspective?

LOW: It was definitely jobs. At least that's what I'll say when I'm in a good mood. You know, we're starting to see job postings and more and more industry. We are starting to actually see some hiring. And just last week for the first time since before the recession, we saw the number of unemployment claims fall below 400,000. If I'm not in a good mood, then maybe it'd be municipal bankruptcy. No that we saw municipal bankruptcy, but we saw an increasing number of cities on the edge. And that's definitely a story to watch as we go into 2011.

HOBSON: Alright, so municipal bankruptcy -- cities and states that are in trouble with their finances. What else are you going to be watching next year? What should ordinary American's be focused on in the economy in 2011?

LOW: You know it's second story that brings us to one of the themes for next year, which is that we're just not going to see as much of an economic push but a government. Which means we're on our own, more than we were the last two years. The federal government in particular we still have little bits of stimulus coming from congress, but it's unlike that Congress is going to spend as much as it did last year. So that means we've got to rely on private industry and private consumption to keep the economy going. So that's one that we're keeping a close eye on obviously. And then the other is the return of the financial markets. You know, retail sales were at their high at the end of the Christmas season, the stock market still isn't there. So that shows you that we're not quite as optimistic as we were a few years ago.

HOBSON: Alright, Chris Low chief economist at FTN Financial. Thanks so much for everything this year, and have a happy new year.

LOW: You're welcome and you too.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson