The latest government statistics on hiring confirm anecdotal evidence that's been building since the middle of last year: Creation of new jobs in financial services has picked up to the point where it's starting to overtake the pace of job destruction.
While that may provide some solace that the sector's job-market conditions have stopped getting worse, it still leaves more than 600,000 fewer U.S. financial services jobs than there were at the peak in 2006. Meanwhile, jobs in securities, commodity contracts, and investments are down 88,000, or 10.1 percent of the industry's peak employment level reached in March 2008.
December produced the first monthly net gain in overall financial services payrolls since July of 2007, based on the Labor Department's preliminary nationwide tally released Friday. For the more narrowly defined securities industry, a net monthly gain also was recorded last October (albeit by a mere 800 jobs out of more than 700,000). December's pickup was a more substantial 3,800 jobs.
Another, larger subsector within financial services - "credit intermediation and related activities," which includes commercial banking, credit cards, mortgage brokers and consumer lending among others - similarly shows payrolls stabilized in October and gained in December.
However, employment in real estate and leasing, which the Labor Department also treats as a financial activity, has yet to turn upward.