U.S. job growth slow, but steady, in 2012

Employment growth in the United States remained slow, but steady, in 2012 with average monthly payroll gains matching 2011.

At the same time, though, there also was little change in the number of people counted among the long-term unemployed and those working part-time for economic reasons.

According to the latest estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm payrolls increased 155,000 in December. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8 percent.

Estimates of payroll gains for November and October were revised up a total of 14,000 to 298,000.

Counting the latest numbers, nonfarm payrolls increased an average of 153,000 a month in 2012, the same as 2011.

Still, the number of people counted among those who’ve been out of work 27 weeks or longer was essentially unchanged in December at 4.8 million and accounted for nearly 40 percent of the unemployed.

Another 7.9 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours had been reduced or they’re unable to find full-time employment.

For December, payroll gains were spread out among several industry sectors. Health care employment continued to grow with the addition of 45,000 net new jobs. Food services and drinking places added 38,000 jobs, construction firms 30,000 and manufacturers 25,000. Employment in other sectors, including mining, showed little change.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls edged up a tenth of an hour to 34.5 hours. The manufacturing workweek also lengthened a tenth of an hour to 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 7 cents to $23.73. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2.1 percent.