Unemployment is down nationwide, except among black males.
Unemployment is down nationwide, except among black males. - 
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JEREMY HOBSON: On Friday the Labor Department releases what many economists consider the most important economic indicator of the month -- the monthly employment report. Well this morning, we got an early indicator that the job market was looking good in December. It comes from the job placement company Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

And CEO John Challenger is with us live now with the details. Good morning.

JOHN CHALLENGER: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: So according to your report, employers announced plans last year to cut about a half a million jobs -- that's the best number since 1997. I think a lot of people who are experiencing the job market we're in would say how could that be?

CHALLENGER: Unemployment's still high, and job creation has yet to return, which will really begin to drive unemployment down. We also have government that really still is in recession from a job standpoint. But if you're in a job right now, you're much safer than you were in 2009.

HOBSON: And best number since '97?

CHALLENGER: That was a very strong number, in fact the month for December -- just 32,000 job cuts with the lowest monthly job cut total of the year. We saw jobless claims fall below 400,000 for the first time last month, so all in all, the economy seems poised for a better 2011.

HOBSON: And John Challenger, as I said we get the big employment report Friday from the government. What does your report this morning tell you about what we might see on Friday?

CHALLENGER: It suggests that it's going to come down. It took an unexpected jump from 9.6 percent to 9.8 percent last month after three months in a row at 9.6. With these positive numbers I think we'll see some pressure to see that number get a little bit better this month.

HOBSON: Well, hopefully you're right. John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, thanks so much for joining us.

CHALLENGER: Thank you.