Better-Than-Expected Jobs Report Lifts Markets

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The Labor Department announced Friday that 200,000 jobs were created in December, and the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. The new hiring came largely in transportation and warehousing. Tens of thousands of other people found jobs in retail and manufacturing.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with an upbeat report on jobs.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Here are the numbers the Labor Department released this morning: 200,000 jobs were created in December, according to a U.S. government survey. And the unemployment rate fell to eight-and-a-half percent. That's a better-than-expected result, and it's boosting financial markets this morning.

The new hiring came largely in transportation and warehousing, we're told. That includes people working as curriers, or messengers. Tens of thousands of other people found jobs in retail and manufacturing. Now, to be clear, the unemployment rate is falling so slowly that it would take years to get back to full employment, but this is the sixth straight month the economy has added more than 100,000 jobs.

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