Jobs have long been an important missing piece in the country's tentative economic recovery, with anemic hiring and a national unemployment rate that remained stubbornly close to 9 percent for all of last year.
Will the numbers improve when the feds release the employment update Friday morning? There are signs of hope.
1. Private employers added a much-better-than-expected 325,000 net new jobs in December, according to ADP's monthly payroll report released Thursday.
2. New applications for unemployment benefits fell 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department reported. That's down 11 percent from a year ago.
3. Layoffs in December fell to the lowest level since June, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Florida and Tampa Bay experienced a similar falloff.
4. More companies say they will hire temporary workers this year, a move that often precedes adding permanent staffers, according to CareerBuilder.
5. Manufacturing in U.S. factories grew in December at the fastest rate since June, according to the Institute for Supply Management. New orders, production and employment all grew faster than in November.
Compiled by Jeff Harrington, Times Staff Writer