The U.S. employment picture continued its gradual improvement in December, adding 155,000 positions as the jobless rate held at 7.8 percent.
Economists had been expecting a slightly better result, but most of the major industries showed little change from their previous levels.
The numbers were almost exactly in line with the overall jobs picture for 2012, during which there were an average of 153,000 per month.
That’s right around where economists figure job growth has to be just to maintain the unemployment rate, which came down during the year from January’s 8.3 percent largely because more people gave up looking for work.
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