Spirits Remain High As The Hopeful Wait Through The Cold

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Are we there yet?

Despite some disappointing holiday sales results, there are new signs this week pointing to an improving economy.

READ MORE: Gov. Lamont: Connecticut Man Who Tested Positive For Omicron Variant Has Mild Symptoms, Resting At Home

But what about unemployment?

CBS 2’s Don Dahler took to the streets Wednesday and found a lot of people looking for work.

They were not buyers lined up to grab the latest hot toy or a casting call for a movie. The people Dahler saw want to work, and when word got out that there were available jobs, they began queuing up along 57th Street at 4 a.m. on Wednesday.

As folks were going in for their job interviews, the line stretches around the corner, all the way down the block, and halfway down another block.

Dahler counted more than 1,000 applicants huddled outside in the frigid cold, hoping to snag one of 250 jobs being offered for a new hotel opening up next month in downtown Manhattan.

And the scene was just the tip of the iceberg as the hotel was taking applications until 8 p.m.

READ MORE: Bob Dole, Former Senate GOP Leader And Presidential Nominee, Dies At 98

Dahler asked Christopher Pearson of Brooklyn what he thought his chances are of landing a job.

“Very slim, but I’m persistent and I’m happy to be here. I’ve been looking for work about a year now,” Pearson said.

Added Salima Moosabhai of Queens: “You got to take your chances. If you don’t you’re going to stay where you are.”

When asked what kind of job he hoped to get, Kevin Bocanegra of Manhattan summed up the thoughts of many.

“Any job,” he said.

That’s the attitude of 15 million people in our area and across the nation who’ve been out of work during this recession. Last week’s jobless claims rose by 18,000 to 409,000. But the four-week average is at a two-and-a-half year low.

“That’s just one of the measures suggesting to us that the labor market is starting to pick up at least a little momentum. [There is] more momentum going into 2011 than we had one year ago,” The Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein told Dahler.

Goldstein also said despite the optimistic trend, it’s going to take years for the job picture to look like it did before the economy tanked. Since 2007, only 11 percent of the people put out of work by the recession have found new employment.

MORE NEWS: Zayid Muthana Has Successful Surgery To Remove Bullet From His Head, Family Says

On Friday the Department of Labor will release December unemployment numbers.