The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the unemployment rate fell to 8.5% after the economy added 200,000 jobs in December. The number blew away economist expectations of approximately 150,000. Additionally, the consensus view among economists was that the unemployment rate would stick at 8.7%.
The economy has now generated at least 100,000 jobs for six straight months for the first time since April of 2006. Consistent hiring could create hiring momentum across the country and many businesses are expressing their desire to increase hiring in early 2012 on the heels of greater consumer confidence and surging demand for their products and services.
According to an Associated Press survey, the economists are expecting an additional 175,000 jobs per month in 2012. That number would compare favorably to the averages of 130,000 in 2011, and 78,000 in 2010.