What the numbers really say about unemployment

Numbers don't lie, but how those numbers are interpreted can paint dramatically different pictures. One case in point comes from a look at employment and a rebounding economy.

The Labor Department reports the number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose by 5,000 last week. Analysts say that number remains close to pre-recession levels and suggests a stable job market.

Then, there is this. Wednesday, new federal reserve chair Janet Yellen announced the U.S. economy is, "not close to full employment" even though the unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point over the past year. The drop is attributed in part to the fact many people have stopped looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed.

Construction employment remains one of the toughest nuts to crack as the nation works to rebound. In Alabama, the only metro areas showing an upswing in construction employment from January 2013 to January 2014 are Florence-Muscle Shoals and Huntsville. Anniston, Gadsden, and Montgomery showed no change. Birmingham and Tuscaloosa lost jobs.

Yellen believes construction numbers can improve as children are able to move out and be on their own. She said, "There are a lot of kids who are shacking up with their families, and probably would like to be going out and acquiring places of their own, whether it's an apartment or a home. There's a lot of demographic potential there for new household formation, it would ultimately generate new construction - either single or multifamily.{}"

Yellen confirms unemployment remains elevated and remains a significant concern moving forward.