BLS: US Added 200,000 Jobs In December

It wasn’t quite 325,000 jobs but the United States economy added 200,000 jobs in December 2011 and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today.

That’s the lowest unemployment rate since February 2009.

The private sector added 212,000 jobs but small decreases in government employment dropped the total back down to an even two grand.

The industries that added the most jobs were the courier business (+42,000), though most of that hiring was seasonal, the BLS said, followed by restaurants and bars (+24,000), then manufacturing and healthcare (+23,000 each).

Retail also contributed 28,000 jobs. It is unclear how many of those jobs were also seasonal holiday positions.

There were also 371,000 fewer underemployed people (or technically, people working part-time when they’d rather be working full-time) and 373,000 fewer discouraged workers, or people not working but not counted as unemployed because they had given up searching for jobs.