Economy adds 155K jobs in December

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, a steady gain that shows hiring held up during the tense negotiations to resolve the fiscal cliff.

The solid job growth wasn’t enough to push down the unemployment rate, which remained 7.8 percent last month, the Labor Department said today. The rate for November was revised up from an initially reported 7.7 percent. Each year in January, the government revises the rate for the previous 12 months.

Robust hiring in manufacturing and construction fueled the December job gains. Construction firms added 30,000, the most in 15 months. That increase likely reflected hiring needed to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy and also gains in home building that have contributed to a housing recovery.

Other higher-paying industries also added jobs. Professional and business services, which include jobs in information technology, management and architecture, gained 19,000. Financial services added 9,000, health care 55,000.

Lower-paying industry sectors were mixed. Restaurants and bars added 38,000 jobs. Retailers cut 11,300, a sign that the holiday shopping season may have been weak. But those cuts came after three months of strong gains.

All the job gains last month came from private employers. Governments shed 13,000 jobs, mostly in local school systems.

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