US employers kept their pace of hiring steady in December but it was lower than the number needed to bring down the unemployment rate. This led to speculations that the economic growth will be lackluster in 2013.
But there are other data released Friday that suggest a stronger economy. The US service sector activity expanded the most in 10 months. This is a positive sign perceived by analysts.
Payrolls added 155,000 jobs in December according to the report released by the Labor Department. It was slightly higher than the forecast made by analysts and just below the revised increase of 161,000 reported for November.
The jobless rate remained unchanged at 7.8 percent. Businesses kept on adding new workers despite the uncertainties connected to the budget stand-off in Washington. Economists expect economic growth in 2013 to be 2 percent.
The slow growth is unlikely to change the unemployment rate. The Federal Reserve will still continue with its stimulus plan despite growing worries among policymakers with regards to its bond buying program.
The Labor Department increased its estimate for unemployment in November by a tenth of a point to 7.8 percent. Most economists expect the nation’s economy to be held back by the tax rate increases as well as by the weak spending by businesses and households. Majority of businesses are still trying to manage the big debts they got before the 2007 to 2009 recession.
Data released Friday showed signs of some momentum in the recovery of the labor market. The gains in employment were distributed throughout the economy, from health care to manufacturing. The government said 14,000 more jobs were made in October and November than initially estimated.
The average hourly earnings increase 0.3 percent in December. It is slightly higher than what analysts estimated. The length of the average workweek also increased.