Decent jobs report despite slowdown in hiring pace
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The pace of U.S. job growth slowed a bit in December, keeping the unemployment rate steady at 7.8 percent, but details of the Labor Department's U.S. employment report were fairly encouraging.
* Nonfarm payrolls increased 155,000, but job gains for the previous month were revised up to show 15,0000 more positions created than previously reported.
* Construction employment rebounded strongly, gaining 30,000 jobs after sagging 10,000 in November, reflecting increased residential construction activity as the housing market recovery gains traction.
* Manufacturing payrolls gained 25,000 after rising 5,000 in November. Manufacturing working hours increased, a positive sign for a sector that has been cooling in recent months. That helped to lift the overall average workweek to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours in November.
* With workers putting in more time, the average hourly earnings increased 0.3 percent after rising by the same margin in November.
* More people entered the labor force, a sign of confidence in the jobs market, keeping the unemployment rate elevated. The household survey also showed a modest increase in employment, but more people reported they did not have jobs.
* The bad news is that government shed 13,000 jobs in December after a loss of 10,000 the prior month.
* Temporary help jobs, often seen as a harbinger for permanent hiring, fell in December and retail employment declined by 11,300 jobs after a hiring spree the previous months.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani)