In the first jobs report of 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday morning that the U.S. economy closed out 2012 with an unemployment rate that remained unchanged at 7.8 percent while adding 155,000 new jobs in December — and that's good news, as the numbers beat economists' expectations by a hair. Bloomberg's pool of economists expected 153,000 new jobs, and the 155,000 showed gains in health care, construction, food services, and, encouragingly, manufacturing. The Obama administration was more than happy to expand on the numbers and tie them to the Fiscal Cliff decision and the looming debt ceiling battle. Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said:
While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
By allowing income tax cuts for the top 2% of earners to expire, this legislation further reduces the deficit by $737 billion over the next decade. It is important that we continue to move toward a sustainable federal budget in a responsible way that balances revenue and spending while protecting critical investments in the economy and essential support for our most vulnerable citizens
Since we're no longer in the midst of an election, the December report didn't come loaded with the same expectations as last fall's numbers — in October, people were getting themselves all worked up over the unemployment rate dropping below 8 percent. And 7.8 percent ties the rate from September, when everyone was so excited that it was at the lowest point since Obama took office. Now Obama's second term begins as his first did, after the November 2012 rate was revised to 7.7 percent. The December rate falls in line with the signs that we're in a recovery, as opposed to pointing toward a dramatic shift in one direction or another.