Is the economy as bad as most Americans think? New figures tell an interesting story.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released employment statistics for October 2015.

37 states added jobs and unemployment rates fell in 40. That's good news, right?


Job seekers wait in line for a chance to apply for a job on a massive urban development project in Miami. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

And if you're a glass-half-full type, here's something else you'll be happy to hear:

25 states have reached pre-recession unemployment rates.

It's been eight years since the recession started. 8.7 million jobs were lost before the recovery began. Now, we're halfway back to where we were before the sh*t hit the fan.

Building a new economy means transforming the world.
And that's the work of optimists.

It's a long-overdue benchmark, though perhaps we should have expected that. This was, after all, the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Click on a state to see its unemployment rate as of October 2015:

Click on a state to see the percent change in its unemployment rate since the beginning of the recession:

The Economic Policy Institute calls this a "bittersweet milestone" because it means we still have a ways to go.

It's important to note that what we've been dealing with isn't just a jobs crisis — it's a plague of inequality that needs more fundamental fixes, says William Greider:

"At some point, it will become obvious that our economy will not truly recover until American capitalism is refashioned, stripped of its self-aggrandizing excesses and made to serve the interests of society rather than the other way around."

Still, with some estimates finding that 7 in 10 Americans feel pretty crappy about the economy, reaching this halfway point is a moment worth lifting up.

President Obama shakes hands with former Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor after signing the JOBS Act into law. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images.

68 consecutive months of job growth — the longest streak on record — ain't nothin' to sneeze at. Plus, the Obama administration has managed to crank up the jobs machine exactly where his opponents say they want it: the private sector.

Politically, that's pretty impressive. But it's been argued that the recovery would be stronger if we put at least as much attention on the public sector. According to EPI:

"Our genuinely pressing spending problem is a decline in spending on public investments relative to our needs, which can reduce future economic growth and contribute to growing inequality."

We were in a deep hole, and we're still digging ourselves out. Steadying the labor market is a big part of that.

When we can peek over the edge, perhaps we'll finally be able to reimagine how things work. In the meanwhile, let's remember to celebrate what wins we can. Building a new economy means transforming the world. And that's the work of optimists.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."