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Employers Step Up Hiring in December, End 2006 on Strong Note
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070105/economy.html?.v=11

Employers stepped up hiring last month, boosting payrolls by a healthy 167,000 and keeping the unemployment rate steady at a still historically low 4.5 percent. Workers' wages grew briskly.

The latest snapshot of the nation's employment climate, released Friday by the Labor Department, showed that the jobs market ended 2006 on a strong note and provided fresh evidence that the troubled housing and automotive sectors aren't dragging down employment across the country.

In December, jobs gains in education and health care, business services, financial firms and leisure and hospitality swamped job losses in construction, manufacturing and retail. Jobs gains for both October and November turned out to be stronger than the government previously thought.

Workers, many of whom had seen their paychecks eaten by inflation, saw wages grow robustly last month. Average hourly earnings jumped to $17.04, a sizable 0.5 percent rise from the prior month. Analysts were forecasting a more modest, 0.3 percent increase. Over the last 12 months, wages grew by a strong 4.2 percent.

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