by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It looks like fewer people are asking for unemployment benefits.
Numbers just out Thursday show the average number of people seeking those benefits is the lowest in almost five years, since March 2008.
James Alexander's feeling it. He's been working in construction for years. He said contracts were pretty hit-or-miss for a while, but work is becoming steadier.
"[I'm] mainly fully employed now," he said. "Currently, I'm not worried how to make ends meet."
Suzette Fetterson is. She lost her job last month. She's trying to get a job -- and unemployment benefits -- in the meantime. She said she hopes to land something soon, not just for herself, but for her four grandchildren she takes care of.
When asked if she feels things are getting better, she said, "I don't feel it. Not unless I got money in my pocket. Unless I get money in my pocket, my money in my pocket."
While the latest numbers look promising, experts are cautious.
The numbers try not to count all those temporary hires for the holidays, but Christmas can still throw them off a bit. Plus, this time of year, many unemployment offices close for a few days, so it's harder to get certain facts and figures.
Although the number of people out of work seems to keep dropping, it's still high. Last month, U.S. unemployment was 7.7 percent, North Carolina's was 9.1 percent and South Carolina's was 8.3 percent.
Even those numbers don't take into account people who just gave up and aren't looking for work anymore.