The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.8 percent last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. However, 155,000 jobs were added in December.
Employment increased in health care, food services and bars/taverns, construction, and manufacturing.
The number of unemployed persons, at 12.2 million, was little changed in December. The unemployment rate held at 7.8 percent and has been at or near that level since September.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (7.3 percent) and blacks (14.0 percent) edged up in December, while the rates for adult men (7.2 percent), teenagers (23.5 percent), whites (6.9 percent), and Hispanics (9.6 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.6 percent, little changed from a year earlier.
In December, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 4.8 million and accounted for 39.1 percent of the unemployed.
The civilian labor force participation rate held at 63.6 percent in December.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 7.9 million, changed little 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.
Health care employment continued to expand in December (+45,000). Job gains occurred in ambulatory health care services (+23,000), in hospitals (+12,000), and in nursing and residential care facilities (+10,000). In 2012, health care employment rose by 338,000.
In December, employment in food services and drinking places rose by 38,000. In 2012, the industry added an average of 24,000 jobs a month, essentially the same as in 2011.
Construction added 30,000 jobs in December, led by employment increases in construction of buildings (+13,000) and in residential specialty trade contractors (+12,000).
In December, manufacturing employment rose by 25,000, with small gains in a number of component industries. In 2012, factory employment increased by 180,000; most of the growth occurred during the first quarter.
Employment in retail trade changed little in December, after increasing by 143,000 over the prior 3 months.
Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, professional and businesses services, and government, showed little change over the month.