The U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in December, according to an initial Bureau of Labor Statistics report, matching analyst expectations and suggesting a continuing economic recovery.
The payroll employment figure, new entrants into the job market, and the revisions to previous surveys, suggest outside forces — particularly Hurricane Sandy and economic uncertainty created by the fiscal cliff — didn’t drag the labor market below the steady pace of growth reflected in recent data.
BLS now estimates that the economy added 137,000 jobs in October, down a tick from its first revision of 138,000 jobs, and off significantly from its highly uncertain initial estimate of 171,000. However, the revisions also indicate that the economy added 161,000 in November, up modestly from the initial estimate of 146,000.
The unemployment rate is now 7.8 percent, according to the report, a tenth of a percent higher than it was in the November survey. However, this does not reflect a genuine increase, as BLS says seasonal revisions nudged the November unemployment rate up to 7.8 percent as well.
The report’s internal figures are consistent with a slow, but steady recovery from the 2008/2009 economic crisis. It also underscores the dangers of a renewed debt limit fight, and other forms of disruptive political interference.
The health care sector continued to grow robustly, adding 44,000 jobs in December. But there were unexpected winners as well, including manufacturing, which added 25,000 jobs, and construction, which added an impressive 30,000 jobs, inflated, perhaps, by the hurricane Sandy cleanup effort, but also reflective of a quickening housing market recovery.
However, austerity continues to be a drag on the recovery. The public sector lost 13,000 jobs last month, including 11,500 teachers.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.