US Economy Adds 167,000 Jobs in December; Payrolls Rose 1.8 million in 2006

Nonfarm employment increased by 167,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.5%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Over the year, payroll employment rose by 1.8 million. Average hourly earnings rose by 8 cents, or 0.5%, in December.

The number of unemployed persons (6.8 million) was about unchanged in December, and the unemployment rate held at 4.5%. Over the year, these measures declined from 7.3 million and 4.9%, respectively.

Job gains occurred in several service- providing industries, including professional and business services, health care, and food services.  Professional and business services employment continued to expand in December with a gain of 50,000.  Health care added 31,000 jobs in December.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 167,000 in December to 136.2 million, following increases of 86,000 in October and 154,000 in November.  Employment in financial activities was up by 153,000 over the year. In the past 12 months, food services added 304,000 jobs

In December, both total employment, at 145.9 million, and the employment- population ratio, at 63.4%, were little changed. Over the year, the civilian labor force edged up in December to 152.8 million.

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