In suburban Dallas, Bill Hair's computer repair business is doing something now it hasn't done in two years: hiring new employees -- three in just the last two weeks, reports CBS News correspondent Don Teague.
"I see a lot of business that have held back, are now realizing it's time to move forward," said Bill Hair, owner of My Computer Guy. "We feel very strongly about the economy now, that things are improving."
Hair's sudden hiring spree isn't over. He expects to add three more employees sometime next year -- starting at $12 an hour.
"I feel very lucky. I learn everyday," said a new employee.
And if the number of people filing for unemployment continues moving lower -- that means what's happening here -- is happening elsewhere: businesses are finally hiring.
"This week we passed that threshold," said economist Bill Cheney of John Hancock Financial Services. "We may not stay there but at least it's part of an ongoing downward trend but it is a really good sign that we're heading in the right direction."
Still, nearly nine million people are receiving unemployment benefits.
And economists say new applications for benefits will have to drop from their current level (388,000) to below 375,000 to make significant dent in unemployment.
The Miami unemployment office still had plenty of people searching for jobs today.
And back in Texas, out of work professionals like Ryan Holland, who's been looking for a job since he was laid off in April, say competition for good jobs is still intense.
"You've got to be best of the best to really land the type of job that you want to land," said Holland.
Still Holland is looking on the bright side, with his wife caring for their newborn. He's helping run her growing internet coupon business.
A business, that once Holland finds his own job, will need new employees of its own.
While today's numbers are a start, economists will now focus on next Friday's report on the number of jobs created or lost in December, and that could tell us whether the employment picture is finally, really improving.