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Things are looking on the bright side in terms of unemployment, according to a report released by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, which concluded that nonfarm payroll employment rose by 200,000 in December, and the unemployment rate, at 8.5 percent, continued to trend down.

The report noted that job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing, retail trade, manufacturing, health care, and mining.

Both the number of unemployed persons (13.1 million) and the unemployment rate (8.5 percent) continued to trend down in December. The unemployment rate has declined by 0.6 percentage point since August.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men decreased to 8.0 percent in December. The jobless rates for adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (23.1 percent), whites (7.5 percent), blacks (15.8 percent), and Hispanics (11.0 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.8 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.6 million and accounted for 42.5 percent of the unemployed.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined by 371,000 to 8.1 million in December. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 200,000 in December. Over the past 12 months, nonfarm payroll employment has risen by 1.6 million.

Employment in the private sector rose by 212,000 in December and by 1.9 million over the year. Government employment changed little over the month but fell by 280,000 over the year.

Employment in transportation and warehousing rose sharply in December (+50,000). Almost all of the gain occurred in the couriers and messengers industry (+42,000); seasonal hiring was particularly strong in December.

Retail trade continued to add jobs in December, with a gain of 28,000. Employment in the industry has increased by 240,000 over the past 12 months.

Over the month, job gains continued in general merchandise stores (+13,000) and in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+11,000). Employment in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores fell by 10,000.

In December, manufacturing employment expanded by 23,000, following 4 months of little change. Employment increased in December in transportation equipment (+9,000), fabricated metals (+6,000), and machinery (+5,000).

Mining employment rose by 7,000 over the month. Over the year, mining added 89,000 jobs.

Health care continued to add jobs in December (+23,000); employment in hospitals increased by 10,000. Over the year, health care employment has risen by 315,000.

Government employment changed little in December but was down by 280,000 over the year. Job losses in 2011 occurred in local government; state government, excluding education; and the U.S. Postal Service.

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $23.24. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.1 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were unchanged at $19.54.

For more information, visit www.bls.gov.

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