The U.S. Department of Labor's newly released December 2012 unemployment report showed total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 155,000 during the month. Despite the uptick, the overall unemployment rate held steady at 7.8%.

Following is a Bureau of Labor Statistics summary: 

  • Manufacturing employment rose by 25,000 in December, with small gains seen in a number of component industries. In 2012, factory employment on the whole increased by 180,000, with most of the growth occurring during the first quarter.
  • Construction added 30,000 jobs in December, led by employment increases in construction of buildings (+13,000) and in residential specialty trade contractors (+12,000).
  • Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, professional and businesses services, and government, showed little change over the month.
  • Health care employment grew by 45,000 positions, with most job gains seen in ambulatory health care services (+23,000); hospitals (+12,000); and in nursing and residential care facilities (+10,000). In 2012, health care employment rose by 338,000.
  • In December, employment in food services and drinking places rose by 38,000. In 2012, the industry added an average of 24,000 jobs a month, essentially the same as in 2011.
  • Employment in retail trade changed little in December, after increasing by 143,000 over the prior 3 months. Within the industry, employment in clothing and accessories stores fell by 19,000, following gains that totaled 55,000 over the prior 3 months. Elsewhere in retail trade, employment in automobile dealers and in food and beverage stores continued to trend up in December.

Other highlights: In December, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours.

The complete December 2012 employment report, which includes historical data, is available onlne.