The major stock indexes surged, then plunged before bouncing back. At the end of the trading day, the Dow industrials were up nearly 60 points.
The drama on Wall Street came as a soft American economy and fragile European economies struggle for some consistent growth or some stability.
Many people are trying to figure out what the fluctuating stock market and the slow job market means for them both now and in the future.
"Once you start selling, it's like a big snowball rolling down the hill," said David Mirza, associate professor of economics at Loyola University's School of Business Adminstration.
Mirza was not surprised by Thursday's drop in the stock market.
"I had a feeling something like this was left and the dark clouds were on the horizon," he said.
A slight improvement in the nation's unemployment rate brought the market up briefly. But reading into those numbers, the reality is that hiring is still slow especially for full-time positions.
Clients at JVS Chicago get placement assistance in their job searches. Matt Ebner was recently laid off after 23 years in commercial real estate asset management. He's looking at creating his own asset management group as other firms aren't hiring. During this transition, Ebner was tempted to take action with Thursday's market tumble.
"Step back and say, 'let me think about this for a minute,' and I think it makes the most sense to continue to do nothing," said Ebner.
Kathy Somogye came to JVS Chicago for guidance in her job search as a capital improvements manager. She and her family have already downsized and had to dip into investments. Somogye has continued to volunteer and consult during her search. She focuses on what she can do, not what is beyond her control, in the global economy.
"What I focus on is what I can be doing that's productive in this stage of life," said Kathy Somogye, job seeker.
"What I focus on is what I can be doing that's productive in this stage of life," said Julie Murphy Casserly, financial planner, JMC Wealth Management.
Murphy Casserly is author of the emotion behind money. She says the reality of jobs and market changes allows clients to determine their comfort with volatility and then make a plan.
" Are those things really true or would you rather sock more cash to the side to protect against losing a job? Don't stick your head in the sand. Make conscious choices," she said.
Experts expect more volatility, especially next week.