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      Is the recession over?

      October unemployment numbers are in, and analysts say the news is good. In the last year, jobless rates fell across the state and in every U.P. county except for one.

      But does this mean the recession may be coming to a close? "Cautiously optimistic" are the words on the lips of local economic analysts.

      The October report shows unemployment rates are lower everywhere in the U.P. but Mackinac County; an exception they blame on that area's tourism climate in October.

      So what does the good report card mean?

      "People are taking charge of their lifestyles, giving more and spending strategically," says Tawni Ferrarini, Sam M. Cohodas Professor at Northern Michigan University.

      Ferrarini says that financial responsibility has allowed some to create more ventures and jobs. They're seeing that trend at Northern Initiatives, a group that provides loan fund, business consulting and sector development services to rural entrepreneurs. They're keeping so busy with a large amount of startup businesses, they'll be adding three new employees to their own staff.

      "Small businesses are coming up in all the counties; we're seeing a lot of new startups and a lot of new activity," says President Dennis West. "That accounts for some of the job creation."

      But news of the potential temporary layoff of 600 Cliffs Natural Resources employees paints a troubling picture for some. Analysts say as long as the layoffs are indeed temporary, it shouldn't deeply impact this positive economic streak.

      "Temporary layoff is not going to be devastating; it's just going to be a blip that we'll recover from quickly," West says.

      They say the long-term reality of the current economic climate should be more visible after the holiday season, but there's no way to tell for sure if the good news will continue.

      "We do not have a crystal ball," Ferrarini says.