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 reduce the unemployment rate, which remained 7.8 percent last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate for November was revised up from an initially reported 7.7 percent.
Each January, the government updates the monthly unemployment rates for the previous five years. The rates for most months don’t change.
The government said hiring was stronger in November than it first estimated. November’s job increases were revised up 15,000 to 161,000. October’s increase was nearly unchanged at 137,000.
The “gain is perhaps better than it looks given that firms were probably nervous about adding workers with the fiscal cliff looming,” said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics.
Even so, hiring hasn’t been strong enough to quickly reduce still-high unemployment. The job gains for December matched almost exactly the average monthly pace for the past two years. Hiring has been steady but modest as the economy has grown slowly since the recession ended more than three years ago.
For 2012, employers added 1.84 million jobs, an average of 153,000 jobs a month, roughly matching the job totals for 2011.
Robust hiring in manufacturing and construction fueled the December job growth. 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.
Manufacturers added 25,000 jobs, the most in nine months.