US employers added a stellar 312,000 jobs in December

National
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FILE- In this Jan. 30, 2018, file photo, Loredana Gonzalez, of Doral, Fla., fills out a job application at a JobNewsUSA job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla. On Friday, Nov. 2, the U.S. government issues the October jobs report. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

U.S. employers dramatically stepped up their hiring in December, adding 312,000 jobs in an encouraging display of strength for an economy in the midst of a trade war, slowing global growth and a partial shutdown of the federal government.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9 percent, but that reflected a surge in jobseekers— a positive for growth.

Average hourly pay improved 3.2 percent from a year ago.

The health care, food services, construction, and manufacturing sectors were the primary contributors to last month’s hiring.

The strong job gains suggest that the tumbling stock market has yet to depress expectations that the economy will expand for a 10th straight year. Still, growth is likely to slow as the stimulus from last year’s tax cuts wane.

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