The latest US jobs figures provide the strongest evidence yet of an acceleration in economic activity there.
In December there was a rise of 200,000 in the number of people in work.
That was the most in three months and way above economists’ expectations for a 150,000 gain.
The solid growth in employment last month meant the jobless rate dropped to 8.5 percent — a near three-year low.
However November’s rate was revised upwards from the original estimate of 8.6 to 8.7 percent with
8,000 fewer jobs created than previously reported.
And with economists predicting the recovery will slow early this year, it is still possible the Federal Reserve will embark on more stimulus to spur stronger growth — specifically a third round of so-called quantitative easing; in essence printing money.
All the job gains in December came from the private sector. Payrolls rose by 212,000, while the US government laid off 12,000 people.
For the whole of last year, employers added 1/64 million workers — the largest number since 2006.
But the US economy needs a much faster pace of job growth over a sustained period to have a noticeable impact on the total of the 23.7 million Americans who remain either out of work or underemployed since the end of the 2007-09 recession.
At December’s pace of job growth, it would take about 2-1/2 years for employment to return to the where it stood before the downturn began.
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