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.
A trio of reports released yesterday showed private hiring increased last month, while layoffs declined and applications for unemployment benefits stayed near a four-year low.
And outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that the number of announced job cuts fell 43 percent in December from November, and overall planned layoffs in 2012 fell to the lowest level since 1997.
The decline in layoffs coincided with a drop last month in the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits. The four-week average was little changed at 360,000 last week.
Boeing Co. said Wednesday it plans to employ 30% fewer
executives at its Boeing Defense, Space & Security unit by the end
of 2012 compared to 2010 levels.
Energizer. The St. Louis-based company said Thursday that it expects
to shed about 1,500 employees. When finished, the restructuring should
lead to $200 million in pretax yearly savings
Research in Motion Ltd., the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, laid off about 200 people at its U.S. headquarters
Hawker Beechcraft. The company says 240 employees will lose their
jobs with the closing of Hawker Beechcraft Services facilities in Little
Rock, Ark.; Mesa, Ariz.; and San Antonio, Texas.
980 job cuts at U.S. Cellular, with 640 in the Chicago area, according to a spokeswoman
United Blood Services Gulf South region, the non-profit blood service
provider for much of south Louisiana and Mississippi, will lay off
approximately 10 percent of its workforce.
In its statement, UtahAmerican Energy blames the Obama administration
for instituting policies that will close down â€œ204 American coal-fired
power plants by 2014â€³ and for drastically reducing the market for coal.