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Unemployment drops 0.2% in December, ends year at 5.6%

by Reg Clodfelter

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent in December, ending 2014 at 5.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate dropped 1.1 percentage points since December 2013 and is now the lowest it has been since June 2008. It has now dropped in 11 of the past 16 quarters.

And a recovery in the jobs market is on the upswing. Job growth averaged 246,000 per month in 2014, compared with an average monthly gain of 194,000 in 2013.

Employment in food services and drinking places had a big December, increasing by 44,000, well above the industry’s average gain of 30,000 jobs per month in 2014. The biggest winner throughout the year, though, was professional and business services, which averaged monthly employment gains of 61,000 in 2014, and rose by 52,000 in December.

Healthcare added 34,000 jobs in December, above the industry’s average monthly gain in 2014 of 26,000 per month and double its 2013 average gain o

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