It’s been three years of some rough stuff, but Americans are starting to report that when they’ve changed jobs, it’s been for something better paying or a higher-level position, according to a report from Experian Simmons.

According to the research firm, 6.5% of those who changed jobs in the last year moved into a better spot. No, it’s not much, but it turns out that moving up has never been something experienced by the majority of the population. In January 2008, when the economy was still mostly strong (the official start of the recession came in December 2007, but took months to ripple through the general economy), 9.9% of Americans said they had moved into better jobs in the previous year. The latest figure is also up significantly from April’s 4.6%.

Some further “good” news, that just 2.4% of Americans who switched jobs in the last year moved into lower level or lower paying positions. Bright side.

We’re not jumping up and down about any sort of real recovery yet, and the current unemployment and new-jobs numbers (9.8%; a mere 39,000 new jobs) indicate a seriously bleak backdrop. Which lends a sort of cognitive dissonance to Experian’s claim that slightly more Americans are starting to look hopeful about job opportunities (8.2% compared to 6.6% in July). But let’s take the good news where we can.

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.

Today’s Total: 1,942

London Underground transportation has planned 800 worker layoffs 750 workers of Toyota Motor Corp.‘s Britain plants are faced with early retirement as Toyota ends its work-sharing system… 202 employees are let go from IBM in the latest round of layoffs… Las Vegas labor unions have not agreed to concessions, a decision which will result in 100 municipal layoffs… In an effort to cut expenses in the 2010-2011 school year, Seattle Public Schools have given layoff notices to 90 staff members.

Millennials were born with the internet. They’ve probably never used card catalogs, Walkmans or typewriters. And unlike older workers, they don’t believe in job security.

In a nice counterpoint to a recent Atlantic Monthly story that argued GenY will be permanently handicapped by the recession, Nancy Cook, writing for Newsweek, wonders whether younger people are actually very nicely suited to the New Normal of jobs…

Most of us have heard so often that it’s important to have a personal brand that we’re sick of it. The overuse of the term is beginning to devalue it. I’m not a box of cereal; I’m a human being, you might say.

That is true. And it is increasingly difficult to find a differentiator as the competition for jobs and consulting assignments is so fierce. Maybe it’s because we’re looking at ourselves as a business. We’re using dull and dry terms to describe ourselves: team player, proven track record, top producer. They don’t exactly leap out and grab someone by the throat.

But a review in The New York Times last week of two young pianists got me thinking that we should be looking at it in a different way. The Times music critic began: “Many young classical musicians feel pressure to stand out.” Well, who doesn’t? It’s not just pianists; everyone in this tough economic climate is looking to stand out. But it was another sentence that really got my attention: “It is not enough to play an instrument – or sing or conduct – brilliantly. You have to search within yourself and define your artistic identity. Your performances should convey what you believe in, what excites you.”..

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.

Today’s Total: 7,073

The Kansas school system is in danger of a possible 5,000 job cuts next year if school funding fails to suffice… Shaw’s grocery store chain is closing its Connecticut locations, laying off 967 workers in the process… Yonkers, N.Y., mayor has announced that next year’s budget may result in either 900 employee layoffs or a 35 percent tax increase… 150 Cadbury workers may be facing layoffs as Kraft restructures the confection maker… Comache County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, Okla. has terminated 56 jobs, including the chief operating officer… Online entertainment company, Slide, is ceasing production on two of its games, laying off up to 10 percent of its workforce in the process…

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.

Today’s Total: 1,233

A new budget for Phoenix, Ariz. has resulted in 520 job cuts… If South Carolina state legislature passes a $5.1 billion budget plan, the Department of Juvenile Justice could suffer 295 contract employee layoffs200 jobs will be terminated as New Jersey Transit faces an emergency spending freeze… Cummins Inc. is laying off 194 workers from the Columbus Midrange Engine PlantLockheed Martin Corp. has laid off 16 employees at its Orlando, Fla. Location… New York City controller John Liu has announced that 8 employees have “separated” from his office…

At the risk of stating the obvious, skill, talent, and seniority no longer guarantee job security. And blackmail and corporate espionage aren’t great alternative strategies — it’s generally better to get canned than to get jailed.

But there are ways to you reduce your chances of getting targeted during the next round of layoffs. After all, every workplace has a few key players whose bosses believe the place couldn’t run without them — whether it’s the person who can run a finicky fax machine or the only staffer who maintains a good rapport with a difficult client. These people tend to be the same ones who avoid layoffs time and time again.

You can become one of them — without a lot of hard work but with a good dose of sucking up. Here are five other tips to follow…

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.

Today’s Total: 2,354

Davie Yards Inc., a Canadian shipbuilder, is planning 1,600 employee layoffs to begin on Monday while it files for creditor protection… Chicago Public Schools will be laying off 500 employees by mid-March… Las Vegas faces 171 city layoffs by July 1 unless labor unions agree to concessions… In another round of layoffs, Sunrise Senior Living Inc. will terminate 30 jobs this year…

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.

Today’s Total: 2,500

NYC Transit has announced the impending layoffs of 1,000 employees Florida’s Jackson Memorial Hospital may be forced to cut 1,000 jobs and vacant positions in he face of a budget shortfall… ABC is looking to lay off up to 400 employees, or 20 percent of its staff, and is offering voluntary “separation packages” to all full-time non-union employees…

Ah, recession…a perfect time for career reassessment. Especially when you get tossed out of our job and need to figure out your next move — but also when the economic shakeup makes you realize you’re not all that satisfied with your work.

We’re loving this handy chart from the book How to Keep Your Cool if You Lose Your Job. (Full-sized version below.) You probably haven’t seen it, since author Kathryn Jackson lives in New Zealand. But it’s a wonderful way to visualize and measure all the different aspects of your work…