Employment in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of December, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday.
The report showed that non-farm payroll employment increased by 155,000 jobs in December following an upwardly revised increase of 161,000 jobs in November.
Economists had expected employment to increase by about 155,000 jobs compared to the addition of 146,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
The job growth during the month came as the addition of 168,000 private sector jobs more than offset the loss of 13,000 government jobs.
Payroll processor ADP released a separate report on Thursday showing that private sector employment increased by a more substantial 215,000 jobs in December.
The Labor Department said the private sector job growth reflected an increase of 55,000 health care and social assistance jobs as well as the addition of 30,000 construction jobs and 25,000 manufacturing jobs.
Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry also increased by 31,000 jobs, while the retail sector actually lost 11,300 jobs.
The Labor Department also said the unemployment rate came in at 7.8 percent in December, unchanged from the previous month's revised figure.
The unemployment rate for November was upwardly revised from the 7.7 percent originally reported, which was the lowest rate since December of 2008.
Paul Ashworth, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said, "The overall picture is that the labor market remains lackluster."
"If this state of affairs continues throughout most of this year, as we expect, then it is hard to see the Fed dialing back or stopping its QE purchases as some officials currently envisage," he added.
The report also showed that average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $23.73. Compared to the same month a year ago, average hourly earnings are up by 2.1 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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