Labor Department: 2015 ends with payroll surge

U.S. payrolls swelled nearly 300,000 in December, bringing job growth during 2015 to almost 2.7 million.

The national unemployment rate remained unchanged for a third straight month at 5 percent, the lowest level in more than seven years.

According to the latest Labor Department estimates, nonfarm payrolls increased 292,000 in December.

Moreover, initial estimates for job growth for November and October were revised upward 50,000 to a total of 559,000. With the latest numbers, nonfarm payrolls increased 2.65 million during 2015. That’s about  14.5 percent lower than the 3.1 million net new jobs reported for 2014.

Still, 2.1 million people were counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Another 6 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours have been cut or their unable to find full-time positions.

The civilian labor force participation rate edged up a tenth of a point to 62.6 percent.

December job gains were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Professional and business services added 73,000 positions, while construction payrolls grew 45,000. Employmentr increased 39,000 in health care, 37,000 in food services and drinking places and 23,000 in transportation and warehousing. Payrolls declined another 8,000 in mining, bringing to 129,000 the number of jobs lost in 2015.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged down a tenth of an hour to 40.6 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls slipped a cent to $25.24. Over the past year, hourly earnings have increased 2.5 percent.