December’s Jobs Report Matched conomists’ projections

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Consistent. Robust. Encouraging.

Such words have often been used to describe the United States’ recent job growth trends. After all, from July to November, 161,800 jobs were added to the national economy per month, on average.

Even Superstorm Sandy did not damper the nation’s steady rise in employment, as 161,000 new jobs were generated in November, just days after the storm struck the northeastern United States.

As 2012 drew to a close, a majority of economists were convinced that hiring would continue to upswing at a steady pace in December, predicting roughly 150,000 jobs would be created throughout the month.

Their projections were virtually accurate. According to the BLS’ “The Employment Situation – December 2012,” the economy added 155,000 new jobs last month, as the national unemployment rate remained unchanged, at 7.8 percent, nearly a four-year low.

The nation’s recent, steady employment figures resulted in a yearly total of 1.84 million new jobs in 2012, a monthly average of 153,000, which matched 2011’s total job creation.

Although public sector hiring dwindled throughout President Obama’s first term, the United States’ private sector has now added new jobs to the economy for 34 straight months – a total of 5.8 million jobs during that period.

This rise in private sector hiring has likely had a direct impact on the national unemployment rate, which has contracted by 0.5 percent since January 2012.

In addition, the average workweek increased to 34.5 hours last month, while the average hourly earnings of private nonfarm payroll employees rose to $23.73, an upsurge of 2.1 percent since December 2011.

The applications for new unemployment benefits also dropped last month, as the four-week average of new unemployment claims was measured at 356,750 during the third week of December, the lowest level recorded since March 2008. Lastly, as a further sign of steady economic growth, the nation’s civilian labor force rose to 115.5 million in December, a month over month increase of 192,000.