The economy added 200,000 jobs in the month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, closing out the year with 1.6 million jobs gained in 2011.
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 200,000 in December, and the unemployment rate, at 8.5 percent, continued to trend down. Job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing, retail trade, manufacturing, health care, and mining. Over the past 12 months, nonfarm payroll employment has risen by 1.6 million. Employment in the private sector rose by 212,000 in December and by 1.9 million over the year. Government employment changed little over the month but fell by 280,000 over the year.
The job market still has a long way to go to recover from jobs losses associated with the last recession. About 8.8 million jobs were lost since 2008, and less than a third of those have been gained back.