The number of jobs added in November grew from 161,000 to 247,000, while December's change was revised by 155,000 to 196,000. Average hourly earnings rose by 4 cents - for an increase of 2.1 percent over the year.
Jobs were added in construction, manufacturing and the service sector, while government hiring continued to decline, with the biggest cuts on the federal and local levels. State government hiring expanded. Health care hiring grew.
Most economists estimate that the economy must generate at least 100,000 jobs a month to keep up with population expansion. That leaves 57,000 more jobs to help erase the jobs deficit - the 3.2 million fewer jobs on the nation's payrolls since the recession began in December 2007.
Even though the number of jobs increased, the problem of long-term unemployment remains, despite declines in the numbers.
In New Jersey, Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia has expanded its job search program. "I'm really concerned about what is happening in our economy," said the agency's director, Mark Boyd, a former New Jersey labor commissioner.
In January, 4.7 million people remained unemployed beyond 27 weeks, a decline from 5.5 million a year ago. They still account for 38 percent of the people who are jobless.
"Businesses are hiring, just not fast enough to get the unemployment rate down," commented Joel Naroff, president and chief economist of Naroff Economic Advisors Inc. in Bucks County.
Contact Jane M. Von Bergen at firstname.lastname@example.org, @JaneVonBergen on Twitter, or at 215-854-2769. Read her workplace blog at www.philly.com/jobbing.