There were 155,000 jobs added to public and private payrolls in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.
That's right in line with economists' expectations and is another sign of steady, though modest, growth in employment. In November, employers added an estimated 161,000 jobs. The average monthly gain in 2012 was 153,000 jobs, BLS says. That's the same average as in 2011.
Meanwhile, the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 7.8 percent in December — BLS revised the November jobless rate, which it first estimated was 7.7 percent, to 7.8 percent. In December 2011, the unemployment rate stood at 8.5 percent.
We'll have more on the report and reactions to it as the morning continues, so be sure to hit your "refresh" button to see our latest updates.
Update at 9:45 a.m. ET. White House And GOP Reaction:
-- "While more work remains to be done, today's employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007." (Allan Krueger, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers)
-- "Too many Americans are still out of work and Washington has too much debt. Our oversized and overspent federal government is a drag on economic growth and job creation, and has burdened every American with a $50,000 share of its debt, and rising. This is the year we need to work together to solve these problems. In the coming months, the House will pass real spending cuts, meaningful reforms of the entitlement programs that are driving us deeper into debt, and a fairer, cleaner tax code. These are the keys to unleashing robust job growth and securing a better future for our children." (House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement released by his office.)
Update at 9:15 a.m. ET. Where Jobs Were Added.
According to BLS:
-- "Health care employment continued to expand in December (+45,000)."
-- "In December, employment in food services and drinking places rose by 38,000."
-- "Construction added 30,000 jobs in December."
-- "Manufacturing employment rose by 25,000."
-- "Employment in retail trade changed little in December, after increasing by 143,000 over the prior 3 months."
Update at 8:55 a.m. ET. Some Early Analyses:
-- "This may be one of the most boring jobs reports in recent memory. The numbers were basically in line with expectations, stock futures are essentially flat and the report likely won't have much sway on what the Fed's thinking when it comes to future stimulus." (The Wall Street Journal)
-- "The pace of hiring by U.S. employers eased slightly in December, pointing to a lackluster pace of economic growth that was unable to make further inroads in the country's still high unemployment rate." (Reuters)
-- "Employers added workers in December at about the same pace as the prior month, and the unemployment rate matched a four-year low, showing sustained gains in the U.S. labor market even as lawmakers were struggling to reach a budget deal." (Bloomberg News)
Update at 8:50 a.m. ET. No Revisions To Jobless Rates That Drew Questions:
In the midst of the presidential campaign, when BLS reported in early October that the September jobless rate was 7.8 percent vs. 8.1 percent the month before, some of the Obama administration's critics wondered whether that number was true or not.
In today's report, BLS says the September figure still stands at 7.8 percent.
Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. For The Year:
-- The jobless rate edged down from 8.5 percent in December 2011.
-- Public and private employers together added 1.84 million jobs to their payrolls.
-- The employment growth was all in the private sector: 1.9 million jobs. Government agencies shed more than 60,000 jobs.