Parties work for job vote
What is it that can be described simultaneously as "progress" and "grim reading"?
What apparently exemplifies both "robust action" on the part of government - and "a damning indictment of their complacency", according to taste?
The answer, as you have undoubtedly twigged by now, is the monthly statistical exercise listing the numbers in and out of work, here in Scotland.
To be clear, the preponderance of views in the political field lies in the direction of a qualified welcome.
Even Labour - authors of the "grim" diagnosis - note at the outset of their statement that "any signs of improvement are welcome".
The difference in interpretation rests largely upon time frame.
The SNP (and indeed the UK government in the shape of the Scotland Office) stress the present trend which is a positive one of declining unemployment and rising employment.
Labour looks further back, noting that there are more out of work in Scotland than at this time last year - and that the Scottish unemployment percentage is currently higher than that for the UK by contrast, they say, with the situation which prevailed when the SNP took power.
The views of voters are likely to be less arithmetical. They can be defined as the feel-good factor. Am I in work? Are my family in work - or with the prospect of work? Do I see rising employment in my community, my city, my peer group?
For these devolved elections, the political impact is also harder to gauge. If there is a relative feel-good factor as a consequence of current trends, does that attach itself to the incumbent party at Holyrood even though macro-economic policy is reserved to Westminster?
Equally, if folk still feel apprehensive despite seeming encouragement in the current trends, is there a political aftermath - and where would that apply?
To recap the basics, Scottish unemployment is down by 7,000 over the last quarter - although the percentage rate, at 8.1, remains higher than the comparable UK level.
The Scottish employment rate is better than the UK average - and has improved again this month. The claimant count in Scotland fell slightly.
Understandably, each of the parties interprets these results in terms of their own offer to the voters at these forthcoming Holyrood elections.
The SNP notes that this is the fifth consecutive monthly fall in unemployment together with the ninth monthly rise in employment.
They say this reflects the "robust actions" taken by their party in devolved power - while arguing that Scotland requires the full panoply of economic tools in order to avoid slipping back.
Labour stresses the extent of youth unemployment and, as billed above, highlights the longer term trends.
The Conservatives welcome the fall in unemployment - but argue that the focus now should be on entrepreneurial efforts to enhance the private sector rather than relying, as in the past, on public sector employment.
The Liberal Democrats also welcome these figures and the recent trend as "good news" - while offering their policies of regional development banks, a home insulation programme and superfast broadband as the route to future growth.