One Last Ride On The 2010 Economic Roller Coaster

As the year winds down, most employers still aren't feeling confident enough to hire more workers. Banks are continuing to foreclose on legions of homeowners. But the year wasn't all bad; profits rose, stock prices perked up and U.S. automakers survived.

Take a look back at more highs and lows from 2010:

Highs And Lows Of 2010

  • Unemployment Got Worse

    Jobs Got Worse i i
    Jobs Got Worse

    In January, the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent. By November, an additional 300,000 people were out of work, bringing the total number of unemployed to 15.1 million, and the jobless rate to 9.8 percent.

  • Housing Stayed Low

    Housing Stayed Low i i
    Housing Stayed Low

    Conditions in the battered housing markets worsened. The housing market also languished. The Commerce Department said that in November, the number of housing permits fell again -- down another 4 percent.

  • Two Global Brands Took A Beating

    Toyota's brake problems hurt the company's reputation. i i
    Toyota's brake problems hurt the company's reputation.

    As the year began, few people would have predicted that both Toyota and BP would get into so much trouble. Toyota started the year with a great reputation for quality and safety. But the way it responded last winter to a series of complaints about sudden acceleration hurt the company's reputation.

    BP kicked off the year by making enormous profits in the first quarter. But then in April, one of its oil drilling platforms exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven men were killed and oil started billowing into the Gulf. The media coverage was extensive. Congress held hearings.  By summer, the company's reputation was in tatters.

  • One Brand Got Its Groove Back

    GM Headquarters i i
    GM Headquarters

    But another global brand came roaring back. General Motors, which had been in bankruptcy, managed not only to re-surface as a new company, but also had a successful initial public offering of its stock. Now the automaker is promising to quickly repay all of its debts.

  • Interest Rates, Inflation Eased Up

    Traders watch the Fed rates. i i
    Traders watch the Fed rates.

    More good news came in the form of both low interest rates and tame inflation. At the year's start, many economists feared interest rates would start moving up and that consumers would see higher prices. But in fact, the past year brought very little inflation and long-term interest rates have ticked up only in recent weeks.

2010's Business Winners And Losers

Which businesses saw success this year -- and which ones didn't.

2010's Business Winners And Losers

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