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Economists See Continued Strong Job Growth For December


The strongest annual job growth since 1999 is already assured for the year about to end, but it's unlikely December's results can match last month's fast pace.

Economists expect employers added 228,000 new jobs in December, along with a steady unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is set to release its monthly jobs report January 9.

Monthly job growth above 200,000 is considered strong.

Recall that employers in November hired 321,000 additional workers, the most in nearly three years. November's 5.8 percent was unchanged from October, but down from 7 percent a year earlier.

Hourly wages grew 0.4 percent in November, and for the year were up 2.1 -- roughly keeping pace with inflation.

Recent job growth has apparently boosted at least two measures of consumer confidence released this week.

The Conference Board's Index of Consumer Confidence rose to 92.6 from 91 in November, the board said Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Gallup said its U.S. Economic Confidence Index last week "tipped into positive territory" for the first time since December 2007.

Gallup said an improved employment picture and lower gasoline prices, rather than Christmas cheer explained the jump.

Gallup also said 36 percent of people surveyed recently said December has been a good time to find a quality job - the most since November 2007 and up 6 points from last month.


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