Mike Smith, of Long Beach, Calif., now pays $200 for his family's health insurance policy, compared with the $3,000 a month he would have had to pay on the individual market last year. Stephanie O'Neill for NPR hide caption

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Kiara Crawford, Brittney Winkler and Jessyca Freeman (left to right) were among those applying for work last month at a job fair in Washington, D.C. Early data from that month signal that job growth may have gained some speed. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Sign of the times? A "help wanted" sign in the window of a Philadelphia business last year. Matt Rourke/AP hide caption

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Looking for work in Florida. At a November career fair in West Palm Beach, this man had a job application in hand. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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