Not lagging, but not leading either
This is not the UK labour market of old: the headline unemployment numbers are moving with the economy, not lagging far behind as they have in the past.
But there's nothing in these figures to suggest the labour market is leading triumphantly ahead.
The employment picture for the next year looks even more fragile than the economic recovery.
The total UK claimant count in February has seen the largest one month fall in more than a decade, and the surprisingly sharp rise in January has been revised down.
The broader measure of UK joblessness also fell by more than 30,000 in the three months to January, though the regional figures suggest unemployment is still rising in Scotland and Wales.
So, the unemployment numbers appear to be flattening out much sooner than in past downturns. The number of vacancies is also rising surprisingly soon.
But there's still plenty to be concerned about: not least, the fact that employment also fell over those three months, by 54,000.
A very large rise in inactivity made up the difference: some 149,000 people have dropped out of the jobs market altogether. It's difficult to draw any firm conclusions about that rise: two-thirds of it - 98,000 - was made up of students reporting that they were no longer in the market for paid work.
There were also significant increases in the numbers taking early retirement - and choosing to stay home to look after family.
The bigger picture is that the jobs market is still a highly uncertain place. As I've said in past months (see Both accident and design and Which side are you on?) the smaller than expected rise in unemployment this time around owes much to private sector workers taking a hit on their earnings.
The Bank of England warned earlier this week that employers could find it hard to keep on workers in a weak recovery, if employees try to make up the ground they've lost.
Though it must be said that so far there's little sign of that happening, even with the recent sharp rise in headline inflation.
But note how much public sector jobs growth continues to flatter the figures.
The number of public sector workers grew by 7,000 between September and December, while the private sector workforce shrank by 61,000 over the period.
With job losses already being announced in town halls, we cannot expect that to last.