For months, economists and others have bemoaned the tepid recovery in the labor market even as other economic indicators were picking up steam. December's job numbers, which pushed down the unemployment rate to 8.5 percent, should put to rest those grumblings — at least for a little while. Here are reports from the AP and the Times.
The December report painted a picture of a broadly improving job market. Average hourly pay rose, providing consumers with more income to spend. The average workweek lengthened, a sign that business is picking up and companies may soon need more workers. And hiring was strong across almost all major industries.