The key number that signifies an improving economy

There’s a number that shows the job market is improving.

No, it’s not the unemployment rate, which was a stellar 3.8 percent in May. It’s the U-6 number, concerning the long-term unemployed or underemployed.

With U-6 coming in at 7.6 percent, it signifies that help is finally on the way — things really are starting to look up on the job front.

Last month’s continuation of U-6 improvement is a very welcome sign that this economy has staying power.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book on economic activity went out of its way to highlight manufacturing.

“Manufacturing shifted into higher gear, with more than half of the Districts reporting a pickup in industrial activity and a third of the Districts classifying activity as ‘strong.’ ”

That’s as good a report card as we have seen in manufacturing in more than a decade — maybe two.

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