Job creation in the United States grew at a solid clip in December. The U.S. Labor Department reported that 200,000 new jobs were added to the economy, with the private sector posting big gains. That offset continued losses in the government sector.
Payroll numbers for October and November, however, were revised lower by 8,000, taking a bit of shine off the report.
A separate survey showed that the overall unemployment rate inched down to 8.5%, the lowest rate since February 2009.
Economists say the gains, most likely boosted by mild weather last month, are welcome, but need to continue at an average pace of 150,000 per month to make a major dent in the over 24 million Americans who are either jobless or underemployed. The average gains per month in 2011 were 131,000.
Meanwhile, the euro hit a new 16-month low against a robust dollar. This came amid growing concerns about funding pressures in the eurozone and signs of improvement for the U.S. economy.