Job applicants enter the 'Denver Hires Job Fair' on December 5, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Last week the U.S. government announced that the national unemployment rate has fallen to 8.6 percent, lower than most analysts had predicted and the lowest since 2009. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
The Labor Department says the unemployment rate stayed at 7.8 percent last month. November's rate was revised higher from an initially reported 7.7 percent.
Robust hiring in manufacturing and construction fueled the gains. Construction added 30,000 jobs, the most in 15 months. That likely reflects additional hiring needed to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy and also solid gains in home building that have contributed to a housing recovery.
Manufacturing gained 25,000, the most in nine months.
Even with the gains, hiring is far from accelerating. Employers added an average of 153,000 jobs a month last year, matching the monthly average in 2011.
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