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Jobs Report Was Good, But Expect 'Rocky Months Ahead'
CNBC.com | January 06, 2012 | 11:42 AM EST

December's employment report shows an improved hiring environment, but the labor market isn't likely to show much stronger growth for months to come.

Employers have been more willing to add workers, but economists say the expected slowdown in economic growth this year will keep a lid on job gains and the employment picture may even deteriorate.

December’s jobs report showed the creation of a total 200,000 non farm payrolls, after accounting for a decline of 12,000 public sector jobs. The unemployment rate, expected to rise, declined to 8.5 percent. Economists had expected 155,000 new jobs in December.

That compares to a revised 100,000 in November, when the unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, also revised.

"I think the data looked good," said RBS senior economist Michelle Girard. "I think it underscored the fact that the U.S. economy had good momentum heading into 2012. It certainly is consistent with all the other evidence we've seen between claims coming down and the various anecdotal reports on hiring. It has been suggesting the labor market is picking up."

Girard, however, said this report is about as good as it may get this year, and she expects the unemployment rate to come down more slowly and will not fall below 8 percent this year.

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