The unemployment rate has been slowly floating downward since 2010. But a number released by the analytics firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed that the number of job cuts for December fell by a whopping 32 percent, the lowest rate in 13 years. These figures account for the number ofreal estate investing planned layoffs employers announce, so the actual account will vary, but statistically it’s a rather startling report considering associated data about the economy recently released.

The story reported today on the CNBC website (1) that employers announced 30,623 layoffs for December. And job creation has gradually recovered as well, with new nonfarm payroll numbers above 200,000 for the previous two months in a row. Not earth-shattering, but welcome nonetheless. Additionally, ADP reported today that companies added about 238,000 new employees for December, again signaling a sustained expansion. It’s a gradual economic improvement and one that doesn’t portend inflation, one of the two key elements the Fed is watching along with the unemployment rate.

Some are even calling for an early end to the Fed’s tapering of the current $75 billion monthly stimulus as it may no longer be needed and the Fed has enough assets as it is, they say. A stronger recovery will in fact mean higher rates but what’s interesting beyond that is how the stock markets have reacted to the possibility of higher rates. Recent opinions by some think that higher rates will slow down the recovery. Yet when the October and November payroll numbers were announced, the stock market reacted in the traditional manner—good news is good for stocks. Over recent years, good news meant an end to the Fed QE program, slowing down the economy.

If that is indeed the case, where good news is good for the Dow, it’s possible that our economy will be closer to a solid recovery and we’re back to a more conventional enviornmnet.